Opinion: New to Rossland? How to be happier here

Sara Golling
By Sara Golling
November 14th, 2018

Let’s start with something simple: walking down the street.

If you have moved to Rossland from a larger centre in the past little while, you may be accustomed to walking eyes-forward, avoiding looking at people, as if eye contact with a stranger could be dangerous, and greeting a stranger even more dangerous. Or you may be accustomed to walking with your eyes glued to a cellphone, as if the world around you were just an inconvenience, and you’d rather disappear into your electronic device rather than relate to your surroundings, including people who exist in living, breathing bodies, right near you. People who have facial expressions, and can speak and hear – if they aren’t gazing into screens too, or plugged into earbuds or headsets.

Now that you’re in Rossland, try leaving the cellphone in your pocket while you’re walking around town, and try looking people in the eyes and smiling at them, or even saying “Hi!” or some such harmless greeting. No, it won’t make them attack you. In fact, advice to decrease the likelihood of being attacked often includes being alert to your surroundings and making direct eye contact with people. Oh, they may ignore you because they’re too caught up in their own thoughts, dealing with disturbing problems, or gazing into their own electronic devices.  Or maybe they, too, are fresh from the big city and don’t understand about being polite and friendly. But that’s unusual. Most Rosslanders will smile back, or voice a greeting. And it’s well-known that smiling makes you feel better.

Addicted to your cellphone?

Having trouble with the idea of leaving your cellphone in your pocket instead of watching it and listening for it constantly?  Be aware of the fact uncovered by a recent studydigital addiction increases loneliness, anxiety and depression. The results of the study suggest that over-use of cellphones is comparable to abuse of any other substance. Healthier to kick the habit, or avoid developing it in the first place.

Walk (if you can); drive only when you must

Let’s go back to the idea of walking.  There are so many reasons to walk to the downtown core instead of taking a car; many studies have shown that exercise relieves depression and improves mood generally – walk to the store or coffeeshop, you’ll be happier!  And another study has shown that exercise tends to prevent or stave off age-related cognitive decline, whereas being sedentary tends to shrink portions of the brain connected with memory.

As for climate change, why should one person burn enough fossil fuel to power a huge pick-up truck, SUV, or even a small car — just to transport one human body that weighs MUCH less than a motor vehicle, for a few blocks when that body would very well burn a few calories instead, and improve its circulation, blood pressure, brain function and general health at the same time?

Or if you have a bicycle, you can ride that instead – to get places, not just to go for a ride. Too many bikes spend too much of their time being hauled around by big motor vehicles to “special” riding destinations, instead of being ridden to get somewhere. Bikes should still function as a means of transportation, not just luxury life-style accessories.

Wintertime and the fear of falling

It gets icy in the winter.  Do invest in a pair of traction devices for your boots so you can keep walking. Urban crampons. You may find that different styles of traction devices work better for different types of slipperiness. I have three different types for different conditions, and value them all. But best to take them off in the grocery store and the post office, as they can increase the hazard of a fall there.  Bones have been broken that way.

Speaking of groceries …

We all know that Rossland is blessed with a great grocery store. To be a better citizen of the world (and Rossland), you can carry your own cloth shopping bag (or back-pack, or wheeled cart) to carry your groceries home in.  Single-use plastics may be banned soon anyway – might as well get a head start on being progressive.  If you can manage it, walking to the grocery store daily and getting the weight-bearing exercise of carrying it all home again, instead of doing one huge weekly shopping by vehicle, is a better deal for you and the planet. But we know not everyone has the luxury of doing that – at least, regularly.

Summertime, but also all year long: learn the trails – they’re lovely!

There are maps. And locals who will be delighted to show you some of the trails. If you bike the trails instead of hiking, please be aware that they’re for hiking too, and don’t ride out-of-control-fast. You’ll need to avoid hitting hikers as well as other bikers travelling in the other direction –or, once in a while, a bear. Reminder:  pedestrians have the right-of-way on trails – not bikes.  Cyclists are required to yield to walkers; even though walkers often step off for bikes, cyclists should not count on that.

For walking the trails in winter, use your bigger, pointier “urban crampons.”

And – why not make the world a better place: PLOG when you can!

Out for a walk or a jog?  The new and wonderful idea is to have a bag along, and to watch for litter and pick it up. It’s amazing how many pieces of unsightly litter even one person can pick up in a matter of a few blocks, and then deposit in a trash receptacle. It’s a matter of community pride.  Who wants their town to look like a garbage dump – aside from the dolts who drop litter in the first place? Besides, plogging is good exercise too.

Now, go forth and walk (or bike) around town boldly making eye contact with total strangers, smiling at them and maybe even talking with them, and picking up bits of litter left by less thoughtful people.

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