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Dr. Ruth Westheimer, the frank and funny sex therapist and prolific author, called us last month with a message. After 15 months in the throes of the coronavirus pandemic, Dr. Ruth, 92, who at 10 escaped Nazi Germany on a Kindertransport, thought it was time to promote positivity. Or, more to the point, it was time to navigate the pandemic with positivity. It's hard to say no to Dr. Ruth, and she makes a good case for finding the bright side given her own relentlessly optimistic outlook.
So, in service to all who need a shot of affirmation or a touch of joy, we said yes to Dr. Ruth and invited her conversation. As usual, we found her delightful, upbeat, a sage adviser. Here are excerpts from our topics of discussion:
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1. Focus on the good
I know that it was difficult year. I know that everyone has to respect the first responders and everybody has to respect and remember the people who did not make it. But I want to tell people right now to take a deep breath and concentrate on the positive. Please, if you are talking to your family and friends, make an effort not to talk about the difficult times. If you're negative, they are going to be reluctant to pick up the phone [when you call] again. However, if you say, “How fortunate we have survived this very difficult time. Now let's make something positive out of it. ...” We can't change it, but we have the power to make the best of it.
2. Embrace nature
I went with my son and my daughter to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. We were there for about five hours. It was fabulous. Everybody should try to make a little excursion, depending on their mobility, to some place where you can see new life coming up, new blossoms coming to life. I felt so very fortunate to see that.
3. Teach your grandchildren positivity
I (wrote) a children's book, Crocodile, You're Beautiful. It says, “Crocodile, be glad about your bumps.” And little ants should be proud to be ants because if they cooperate they can build bridges. I also have a book called Roller-Coaster Grandma that talks about taking my grandchildren to the amusement park and they can go on the rides, but I'm too short.