I remember reading a newspaper article titled, “Totally Ticked Off.” The author suggested that people are cranky because of unrealistic expectations at home, at work, and in the neighborhood. It doesn’t take much to set us off––especially as we grow older. Run into an impatient clerk at the grocery story, an indifferent teller at the bank, a fast-food server in slow-mo––especially when we’re starved and still have an hour’s drive home––and we are ready to draw, aim, and fire!

Then there are the people we love, the ones we refer to as family. We invite a daughter or son to dinner and he or she forgets or shows up late or comments on the vegetables (“Mom, you know I hate lima beans!”).

Maybe your spouse shows a wrinkled brow every time you forget to put the carton of milk on the top shelf of the fridge where it’s easy to see. Or your grandchild blurts out your age in public.

It’s no wonder we feel cranky and abused at such times.

When my husband and I bought our first home together at age 55 and 65 my father, then 85, sounded ticked instead of tickled. He did not congratulate us. He worried aloud that we wouldn’t be able to make the mortgage payments and it was hard for him to let go of his concern, even though we were older adults with responsible jobs.

It was then I realized the importance of being tickled for people when they share their good news instead of being ticked because you don’t agree with their choices. And I thought about how I could return a smile for a frown and a word of gratitude when I’m corrected.

Being ticked alienates and divides. Being tickled encourages and nurtures. So the next time your son announces he’s moving to another state (and taking your daughter-in-law and grandchildren with him), or your spouse says he’s going to learn the guitar at age 68 or start a small business, or plant tomatoes, step into his or her shoes, close your eyes and ears to the negative comments waiting to spill forth, and say instead, five simple words––”I’m totally tickled for you”–and mean it.

I’m going to do the same. Maybe we’ll set a new standard. Wouldn’t that be nice? And wouldn’t we be doing what God wants–encouraging one another.





Totally Tickled — 12 Comments

  1. Love this distinction. So fun and great advice! I guess the only “tickle” about your father’s concern was that he regarded you both as too young to handle responsibility–at 55 and 65!!!!

  2. Thanks for your comment, Kathy. Love hearing from you. Yes, some dads, like mine, see their daughters as little girls no matter what their age!

  3. How wonderful Karen, That’s what it’s all about, encouraging each other, we all want to be; “Totally Tickled” more often. God bless you

  4. Loved the post, Karen! I was reading your post, thinking smugly that I am actually getting better at this with age (holding my tongue and being happy for their choices)UNTIL….I read the thing that I dread the most: having a son-in-law move my girls and grandbabies out of San Antonio (where they live just ten minutes away.) I felt my blood pressure zoom at that! That would be ultimate test for me. If or when it happens, I want to remember this advice!

    • It happened to me. Twelve years ago my daughter and son-in-law moved with their five children to Ohio from California. I cried buckets! But when I see how they have flourished I have to say I’m ‘tickled’ for them. I visit at least once every summer and we text and talk often.

  5. Thanks for the reminder, Karen. We help people (including ourselves!) when we support each other. I’ve been working on this for some time, and hope that I’m “tickled” more often than “ticked” at people, both friends/family and strangers.

    Thanks for the great post!

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