I am a people person. I watch a room. I watch how one person treats another person. Are they paying attention? Are they distracted? Do they care about the conversation? It gets harder and harder these days to stay focused on life. Our pockets vibrate or beep to tell us that someone wants our attention. Is the conversation we are having more important than the vibration in our pocket? Who wins?
I recently came across this Anaïs Nin quote:
“The secret of a full life is to live and relate to others as if they might not be there tomorrow, as if you might not be there tomorrow.”
What if we did that each day? What if we approached every conversation as if it were the last one, for us or the individual(s) speaking to us. Would we be more focused, and care less about the beeps and vibrates from our phones? Would it mean that we would get down on all fours and play more with our kids, pay attention to a friend on the phone, or to our spouse when they walk in the door at the end of the day? Would it mean we would be kinder to the cashier, or the driver going slow in front of us?
Anaïs Nin goes on to say:
“This thought has made me more and more attentive to all encounters, meetings, introductions, which might contain the seed of depth that might be carelessly overlooked.”
What if being more focused in that conversation meant the other person felt more loved? Would that be so bad? What if you got to know them better, and a friendship blossomed? Most of the time I can tell if the person I am talking to is paying attention and focused on our conversation. When I find that they are not, I pull back. Why? There is no point putting myself out there if the other person does not want to be part of the conversation. It is not worth the energy. I am going to try to focus on others more and dig deep.
Thank you for this excellent advice which comes at the perfect time. As I prepare to leave on Sunday for a two week vacation to the Smoky Mountains, I will be undergoing a digital detox of my own sort. No internet, no buzzing phone, no electricity at the campsite we will be inhabiting. Although it will be difficult to go “cold turkey”, you have found the perfect avenue to make me appreciate the opportunity presented to me, thank you 😉
Sounds like a perfect time, Dave. Enjoy your trip to the Smoky Mountains!!
I agree with what you are suggesting, but I have encountered some challenges on my quest to achieve this type of leaving. First of all, by acting as if each day is your last, you are pushed towards neglecting certain responsibilities and mundane tasks. Things you don’t like or don’t want to do are put aside in order for you to maximize your day. Unfortunately, this isn’t a feasible solution for a long period of time. In addition, interactions with individuals become more strained. If I was having my last day with someone, I would want meaningful conversations with them. But you can’t always have deep philosophical conversations with every interaction, especially if the other party isn’t in the mood. I think it is very complicated and oftentimes challenging to try and live by this notion, though it is certainly admirable.
I totally know what you mean. I think it is more an aim rather than a hard core path to follow. Being more aware and attentive when we can be. Noticing when we are distracted by technology, etc. when we really could be more focused on the humans that are right in front of us. Going deeper with others, and not allowing the world to distract us (and our smart phones) from experiencing life that is right in front of us. Thank you for sharing!