Have you ever noticed that events seem to come in threes? This might be the way the Divine gets our attention. My trio of recent events involved two visits from friends of my past and the unfortunate passing of a third friend. Through these meetings and especially through the lens of death, we pay attention to life more closely.
So what is it we do here? We begin our solitary journey as a helpless infant (hopefully with a supportive cast of players), we get curious about the world as a child, and if we are lucky, we keep on living. We have ups and downs and at some unexpected point, we leave. As we walk through life, we’re accompanied by a variety of characters; some hang out with us for a short time, and some become lifelong friends—all color who we are as individuals.
Even though we know that life is temporary, when we’re with someone, we have a tendency to take them for granted. I don’t know about you, but I sometimes find myself elsewhere—not hearing or seeing the person in front of me, but rather wrapped up in my own daily drama. It seems as if I fritter away the time, as if this person will be with me forever.
The following are seven reminders to lead us into a place of being more attentive to others:
- In the presence of others, make it a general practice to put down the phone (or computer) in order to see and hear them. Research tells us that it’s impossible to multi-task, so turn the focus on them. Grab your coffee, relax and smile to encourage them to open up.
- Set aside judgment and listen with curiosity to the stories they tell. Everyone gets to have their side of the story. Ask questions to make sure you see it from their point of view, and avoid accusatory questions or advice (unless asked).
- Make a list of individuals you want to call, write or email, just to keep in touch. Set a schedule for following through—maybe two a week. Chances are, the older you are, the larger the list. Be sure to tell these precious ones how they have affected your life, or what good they have done for the world.
- Make a list of everyone you’ve said, “We need to get together sometime.” Make the time rather than wait for a perfect time. Set a date for sometime. By the way, I keep my lists in My Trust Journal for safekeeping.
- If someone’s name comes to mind, for any reason and especially if you remember how influential they have been in your life, contact them as soon as possible. If it’s 3am, write a note to yourself so you don’t forget.
- Reconcile with anyone you’re not on good terms with—even if it’s an email or letter. You might say, “I’m sad that we are not on the best of terms now. I want you to know that you have been important to me.” My brother Len gives a gift to people in this category because it transforms his attitude about them.
- When saying good-bye, treat the departure with reverence and regard. Our journey seems eternal, yet it’s only temporary.
By following this list, we will not only feel more connected to our friends, we’ll be building self-trust by keeping promises to ourselves. I welcome your thoughts and experiences in paying attention to those who have influenced your life.
May your self-trust build confidence,