Ask the Author: Question & Response
I am a professional young female with many things going for me. Yet many times, in my interactions with others, somehow it feels empty when you suspect that people don’t care to see what’s beyond the surface. How can I find fulfillment and peace in these interactions?
– Mecky, Florida, USA
I invite you to consider the following: Imagine a small child walking through a museum. On the surface, the child can experience the beauty of the artwork and sculptures, but he is not mature enough to appreciate and acknowledge the complexities and grandness of the pieces. Now imagine you are one of the artists whose pieces are in this museum. You see this child pass by one of your pieces. The child stops, looks at it, smiles and then moves on. Wouldn’t this child’s smile be enough for you? Remember, at this point in his development, this is the most the child can offer. He does not yet have the ability to ask you about the piece, your thoughts while you were creating it, or what you meant by its creation. Yet you would not feel empty because this child did not choose to spend time trying to understand your piece. You would not suspect this child did not care about your piece. You would simply be thankful that the child stopped, looked and smiled. And this smile would fulfill you as much as any genuine praise from an adult. You would know that both offered what they were able to in the moment, and you would feel appreciation for both.
Now imagine if, no matter whom you came across in your life, no matter how he interacted with you, you simply understood that this was all he could offer at this point in his journey. If you began to see the world this way, wouldn’t gratitude begin to replace emptiness in your daily experience? Wouldn’t this shift in perception bring you more fulfillment? Wouldn’t you be grateful for any and all interactions if you understood and remembered that a child’s smile is as beautiful as a gracious compliment from one of your peers? How would your life begin to change if you chose to see a child’s smile in all your brothers and sisters? This is what is truly being offered to you in each and every moment.
Try these six simple steps when interacting with your fellow brothers and sisters:
1. Appreciate the people in front of you. Out of seven billion people on this planet, these are the people God has placed in front of you to help heal. By helping to heal them, you will also be healing a part of yourself. These are the people who God believes are best for you at this time, be it for a minute, an hour, a year or more, God is trusting you with His children. Even if it was only for a moment in time, wouldn’t you be completely grateful to any person who took care of your children? Or made your children smile or laugh? Or made your children’s day even a tiny bit brighter? Don’t you think that God is at least as appreciative as you would be?
2. Learn to truly listen to your brothers and sisters. When your brothers and sisters believe they have something to say, simply be in the moment, listen, wait until they have said what they wanted to say, and only then reply. Catch yourself when you begin to talk before they have finished speaking; this means you’re not fully in the moment or present for them. Catch yourself if you are thinking about how you want to reply before they have even finished speaking; that shows you that you’re not fully paying attention. If they have something to say, it may very well be God sharing something He would like you to hear, absorb and think about. Many times, God speaks through others but we are too busy thinking about what we want to say or how we want to reply, and thus miss the message God is trying to send us.
3. Keep the communication moving in a positive, nonjudgmental and loving direction. If people start judging themselves or others, in a respectful manner, slowly shift the conversation to the direction you desire it to flow. You can do so by asking them questions that delve deeper into their aspirations and/or the activities they love. You can question them about how they are considering implementing their positive intentions. Questions such as these show that you are truly listening to what they are saying and care about how they are feeling. This will open them up to your more loving suggestions and to the possible life experience that you’ve had with such issues.
4. Have stories in your mental inventory ready of how you overcame personal and professional obstacles. Instead of lecturing them on how they may perceive a situation in a more peaceful manner, you can interact with them by saying something like: “I had a similar situation with my mother and this is what I did to come to a peaceful resolution… Maybe it can work for you.”
5. Become more present in your interactions by using appropriate body language and nonverbal communication. When you find yourself looking in another direction away from the conversation, bring your eyes back to the person who is speaking. This will bring your attention and focus back into the conversation. Nod, or in some way non-verbally acknowledge what the person is saying, while he is speaking. Keep your feet pointed in his direction. Keep your body in an open position. This will unconsciously help your brain stay focused.
6. Offer gratitude for the interaction. If you bring a bit more peace, joy or understanding to someone’s day, you have succeeded. For what you offer and bring to your brothers and sisters, you feel and reinforce within yourself. In essence, you give yourself the gift you give to others. Thank God that He has such faith in you that He entrusted His children with you, even if it was for only a moment in time.
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