Posted in Communication, Motivation, Personal Development, Positive Thinking, Potential, Self Improvement

We Are Not Alone-Relating To Other People – How Can We Be Better At It?

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

It is easy to forget we are not alone. When I was working in the garden this morning with my cat, Isabella and talking to her about what I wanted to do today, it suddenly popped into my head that she was my friend. She was easier to talk to than anyone.

That’s great and I have no problem with that. I am quite content with having a cat as my best friend.

She really is my therapist. I can talk to her about everything and she is not judgmental. I always feel better after our conversations. She helps me sort through my thoughts and my emotions. She calms me down.

Hold on a second. Do you ever talk to your animals like they are humans? If you do, good for you because you have an outlet for all your “stuff”. You know. The things you may not be comfortable talking about. Maybe you do not have anyone to talk to or more importantly someone who will listen, truly listen. Someone who cares enough.

“When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.” 

Ernest Hemingway

Why is it that we do not listen? Thank goodness for Isabella and all the other animals that fill the void left by humans.

How do we fill that void in ourselves? Can we teach ourselves to listen with intention?

We are trainable in most every aspect of our lives. We learn all sorts of skills throughout our life at all different ages, young and old. I hope we have the ability to learn to listen.

There are a few life skills that immediately come to mind. We talk and write about them all the time. We talk about how important they are for our personal and professional lives.

Sympathy and Compassion are certainly life skills we should all have. Both are important. Sympathy means the act or capacity for sharing the painful feelings of another. Compassion is feeling sympathy toward someone’s pain together with a desire to alleviate it.  Both require the ability to listen and comprehend the feelings of another person.

How about Mindfulness? What exactly is mindfulness? According to the dictionary it is a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.

Certainly focusing one’s awareness on the present moment would apply wouldn’t it? The problem being that in this definition the focus is on one’s self not the other person.

What about Empathy? Empathy is simply recognizing emotions in others, and being able to “put yourself in another person’s shoes” – understanding the other person’s perspective and reality.

Okay, to be empathetic you have to think beyond yourself and your own concerns. So guess what? We would need to listen, really listen, to be able to understand the other person’s reality.

Gosh darn, cats are good at this you know? I always feel great after talking to Isabella.

How do we learn to Listen? How can we become more Mindful, show more Sympathy and Compassion and be Empathetic?

Put yourself in the moment, not your moment but rather their moment. How is the other person acting? Do you have any idea why they are acting, or reacting, that way in that moment?

What attitude do you have? Do you want to win or overpower the other person? Do you want to move on without understanding or do you want to respect them by acknowledging their opinion?

How about simply asking the other person to explain their opinion? That should be the easiest thing to do right? Now you can put your listening skills to the test.

So you have asked the question, are you truly going to listen? Body language is key here. Believe me if you are not listening the other person will know. Be careful about what message you are conveying.

Listening is a skill. When you truly want to listen to what the other person is saying you are going to use their body language to judge them and to help you understand. Just like they are using yours.

Listen and block out other distractions. Is the phone ringing, is there someone else talking? Get rid of the distractions.

Listen to what they are saying. What tone of voice are they using?

Watch them as they are speaking. Are they making eye contact? Are they sitting or standing with their body turned away from you? Are they hunched over? Are they showing emotion?

By listening and watching their body language you may feel like they are not being totally open or honest. You may see their fear or apprehension.

To truly show empathy you have to care and attempt to understand what they are feeling. What are they saying? Do you understand? Do you care? If you do not care they will know.

It has been my experience that when you are truly empathizing with someone you will know that you have been able to connect with them. You will know and so will they. If you are able to achieve that then you have been successful. Keep that door open. Let them know you will be happy to talk to them at any time.

Sound easy? Ask my cat. She’s an expert!

As always, thank you for reading my blog. Have a great day!

Posted in Communication, Motivation, Personal Development, Positive Thinking, Potential, Self Improvement

Gratitude-How Does It Help You In Life And Work? Simple Steps You Can Take

“If you concentrate on finding whatever is good in every situation, you will discover that your life will suddenly be filled with gratitude, a feeling that nutures the soul”  Rabbi Harold Kushner

Gratitude. Everyone knows what it is right? Do you understand and practice gratitude? Do you think about it or do you take it for granted?

According to the dictionary, gratitude is the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.

There are many more detailed descriptions of gratitude. Harvard Medical School writes that gratitude is “a thankful appreciation for what an individual receives, whether tangible or intangible. With gratitude, people acknowledge the goodness in their lives … As a result, gratitude also helps people connect to something larger than themselves as individuals–whether to other people, nature, or a higher power” 

So what are the benefits of practicing gratitude? It can be beneficial in every aspect of your life. For it to be beneficial for you at work you have to look at how it benefits you personally. You cannot truly practice gratitude in one and not the other. You can’t fake gratitude.

Think about yourself and your life. What aspects of your life are you grateful for? Do you have good health, a family, a job? Are your parents still alive? Do you have children or a pet you love? Do you have a job and an income? Do you love books, gardening, hiking in nature? Are you able to do all these things?

We take so many things for granted. My parents are gone and I wish they were still here. I have good health and so many people do not. Going outside and listening and seeing nature around me. Hearing the sound of my grandson learning to talk.

I am grateful for all those things and they all make me happy. We are happier when we are grateful for the things we have.

“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.”

― Ralph Waldo Emerson

Here are just a few of the benefits we receive from practicing gratitude:

  • Gratitude causes happiness. We are happier and have a more optimistic outlook. When we are happy everything else becomes so much easier.
  • We think less about ourselves and more about others. We look for ways to show gratitude to others for what they do and to help others in return.
  • We have more self-esteem and we are less envious/jealous towards others.
  • We feel better. We are more relaxed and we sleep better. Because of this our overall health improves and our energy levels increase.
  • We are more friendly and open towards others which in turn promotes better relationships both personally and professionally.
  • When we have gratitude we are more helpful and show more understanding toward others. We are more empathetic.
  • We listen better and are more respectful. People will want to form a friendship or a better relationship with us because we are more pleasant to be around. People trust us and value our opinion because they know they will be treated with respect.
  • Our outlook improves and we are more helpful towards others which in turn may lead to better work relationships and better results in networking.

Being grateful and showing gratitude to others may be something you do not think about. You understand the concept but take it for granted that you do practice gratitude. But do you?

Some people are certainly better at it than others to the point that you might say they were born that way. I attempt to be grateful but I know I could be better. I always greet people, tell them to have a good day and say thank you.

I really believe that most of us, including me, just take things for granted. We are busy, we may overlook it and then say you will say thanks the next time. Then we forget. Have you ever held the door for someone and they walk right through and do not look at you? They do not smile or say thank you.

Unfortunately, this is becoming more and more commonplace. I am a woman and I have held a door for men before and they do not even acknowledge me. Pretty rude wouldn’t you say? It won’t keep me from doing it again though.

Sometimes such a simple act can make all the difference in a person’s life. It makes me feel better by doing it, it makes me smile. Most of the time someone smiles back.

As a society, I sometimes feel we are disconnected. What kind of life will it be if we all become unaware of each other because we are so lost in our own thoughts or activities?

Gratitude is important. Individual people, families, the people we work with and society as a whole all benefit from the practice of gratitude.

Make a practice of thinking about what you are grateful for. Acknowledge someone who has done something for you.

Do simple things like saying hello, smiling and offering to help. Buy someone a coffee. Write someone a thank you card or send an email saying how much you appreciate them. Hug someone. Take flowers to someone. Be quiet and listen and acknowledge what is being said. Be kind. If you have not seen your neighbor lately, particularly if they are older or not in good health, knock on their door and ask if there is anything you can do. 

I am grateful for being able to share my blog with you today. What are you grateful for?

As always, thank you for reading my blog. Have a great day