While walking our dog at the park today, I stopped to watch something beautiful.
A man was showing a lady how to operate her motorized wheelchair. It was one of those Stephen Hawking-type wheelchairs, and the man was directing her.
“That’s right, like driving a car. Move a little to the right. OK, now back a little left.”
It was touching to see. But the beautiful part was watching as others, also on their daily park walk, stop to interact and offer words of encouragement. I watched as this man and total strangers exchanged kind words, pleasantries, and looks of support. Connection.
I noticed this later in the day at the store while helping an old woman take her milk out of the cart and onto the checkout belt. Normally, I wouldn’t have given it any thought but when I actually stopped for a second to make eye contact as she thanked me, even for a split second, I could actually feel her appreciation. It made the rest of my day.
Notice I said I wouldn’t have given it any thought. I think this is a pretty normal, everyday occurrence for all of us. Pay attention to yourself (and others) the next time you’re out and about. Notice how many people operate with their head down, attached to their electronic device. Watch as the person in front of you pays for their coffee without even acknowledging the cashier. In other words, how many opportunities for connection do we miss?
The beauty of connection is that it serves both you and the person with whom you connect. Your body releases endorphins (the feel-good hormones) and you get an immediate energy boost. Plus, you start to notice things you might have never noticed before (like colors, smells, other people, and opportunities). You don’t have to be an enlightened monk to connect. As human beings, God already hardwired it into our operating system. And like a computer, sometimes it just gets buried by all of the viruses, downloads, and other garbage. Here’s how I’ve been incorporating connection into my own life:
Just be “awake” – Put your cell phone down, take your Beats By Dre headphones off, and actually pay attention to what you’re doing. Look around. Listen. Smell. Be aware.
Listen intently – This is a great one. Personal interaction makes a hugh difference when you look someone in the eyes and actually process what they’re saying to you. This is one thing I’ve been focusing on…from the Starbucks cashier to family and friends. Whomever you’re interacting with, treat them like they’re the most important person in the world at that moment.
Change Your Routine – I work around some beautiful nature trails, yet I’ve never stepped outside to walk around in them. With the spring weather, I’ve gotten away from my desk to walk the trail and even sit at a bench – things I never used to do. The peaceful feeling of just taking in the scenery, listening to the sounds around me, and watching others enjoy the day give me a sense of peace and appreciation for life.
Refuse to Jump – We are quick to respond, judge, and assume. What if we stopped for a moment and gave the other person the benefit of the doubt? Should we always assume that the person we’re interacting with is a jerk, mean-spirited, or simply out to screw us? I watched this the other day while picking up lunch at Whole Foods. The parking lot was pretty busy. I watched driver after driver do the angry gesture thing (throw the arm in the air, shake the head, stick their hand out the window and give an angry wave, etc.) Wouldn’t we save a lot of time, energy, and frustration if we simply let these things go?
Take in right now – Admittedly, this is something I struggle with every day. I have a hard time just being in the present. My “monkey mind” is unpredictable and ships me to places that I’ve already been (the past) or have not even occurred (the future). So guess what happens? I completely miss the only thing that “is” – which is the present. In other words, I’m missing the beauty all around me…like the woman in the wheelchair.
How do you connect each day?
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