We all want that...
I love Oprah. Don't you love Oprah? It's okay if you don't, but I do. One of the things Oprah always says she learned from her 25 years as a talk show host is that every person just wants to be seen and heard. To be validated and know that they matter.
This has always been stuck in my mind, but it didn't really hit me until one day last year. I had recently started my new job and I needed to ride a shuttle to the parking garage to and from work every day. I get on the shuttle, I get off the shuttle. And proper shuttle etiquette dictates that no one speaks to one another on the shuttle unless you really know the other person. Kind of like in an elevator. It's just weird if you do.
Well, at this new job, I was attending weekly meditation sessions in the chapel every Friday. There would be a short reading or music or something, we would meditate, and then we would discuss how it affected us afterward. I really loved this time with my coworkers.
One week, part of the reading had to do with coasting through life without being mindful. Being on auto-pilot and praying for the weekend to come. It hit me that I was guilty of this. And why? Why are we always wishing for the weekend to hurry up and get here. Well, I mean, duh. That's a dumb question I suppose, but my point is that these are our lives we are wishing away. Every moment of every day is what makes up our life. And we aren't really living it. We are missing our lives.
My first thought was of the work shuttle. Specifically, to the driver. I thought to myself, this man drives me twice a day and I bet if I saw him in a store I wouldn't even know who he is. I decided to start looking him in the eye and saying "Good morning" or "thank you" and also learn his name (it was Ron, by the way).
I also decided to start trying to be authentically present during my days. If someone walks up to my desk to speak with me, I determined that I would not keep working and mumble "uh-huh" or "okay". No, I would stop what I was doing and turn around and look them in the eyes and smile. I would actually see them and have an authentic interaction with them.
Wow! After doing this for a short time, I couldn't believe how it impacted my daily life and the relationships with the people around me! When people felt seen by me, you could see the joy coming into the situation. You could feel their energies start to rise.
I started to notice, "Wow, she has really pretty eyes." Or, "That's a really great tie he's wearing." Even, "I had no idea how funny he is once you actually get him talking." And I started telling them these things too. People blossomed and so did I. I've actually been told many times that they love working with me/my floor because I am the "friendliest" and "most fun." Not really saying that to brag, but to point out that what I actually think is happening is that people are feeling seen and heard and it is reflecting in their attitudes.
On the shuttle? The good mornings and thank you's started catching on and pretty soon (and still now I think, although I no longer ride the shuttle so can't confirm) it became a constant stream of "Good morning, good morning, Hello, good morning,..." when people entered the bus and "thank you, thank you, thank you, have a great day and thank you..." when they exited. Kindness is contagious! Especially when it is making people feel connected and like they matter. Because we all want that.