Life is too often lived on the fly, skimming the surface. We can compare it to watching sit-coms instead of engaging in meaningful conversation.
Watching sit-coms is not a negative. They can be a welcome diversion from daily stresses and the laughter they trigger can even release healthy chemicals in our bodies.
What sit-coms do not do, however, is promote intimacy in our lives. Intimacy comes from being fully engaged with another person.
We've all experienced the disconcerting feeling of talking with someone at a party and watching their eyes search the crowd to find someone else to visit. Then there's the blank stare on the face of someone we are talking to who is formulating what they will say when we take a breath. Even worse, the person with the wandering eyes or blank stare can be you or me if we aren't committed to being fully engaged.
Being fully engaged is what life is all about.
It means we are focused on what someone else
is saying, feeling, meaning.
Our response will reflect our considered thoughts after we really listen. Each party will be speaking their own truth directly to the other. The conversation will be more than rebuttals, taking a stance, debating or making an impression. There will be respect for each other, reflection before comment, an effort to be supportive or helpful.
When we are fully engaged, we are not necessarily in agreement. Sometimes we are hearing or speaking what we believe the other needs to know. If we care enough, we speak directly and with compassion, open to receiving in return. The conversations I remember most clearly are the ones where someone cared enough to go out on a limb and offer me what I needed to know.
There are all too few of these fully engaged conversations in our lives, even with those closest to us. I wonder how many people there are in our lives this minute with whom we are often fully engaged? I'll guess that our happiness quotient is directly proportional to that number.
Our contentment with our lives has everything to do with the quality of our human interaction and a lot less to do with the size of our bank account than is frequently thought. There are opportunities everywhere, everyday, with almost everyone, to be fully engaged.
Perhaps none of us want to be fully engaged with everyone we come in contact with but we need to make certain we are fully engaged with someone.
We are all familiar with the bumper stickers that ask if we have hugged our kid today. When that concept is greatly expanded and taken to its logical conclusion, we are fully engaged with everyone who is significant in our lives.
We know we need hugs. Being fully engaged is the extended emotional, intellectual, and spiritual permanent hug.
Jean Loxley-Barnard has been a writer all her life and studied both sociology and psychology at George Washington University where she earned a B.A. Her company, The Shopper, Inc., encompasses all the Loxley-Barnard family publications - The Shopper Magazines and Doctor to Doctor Magazine. She has been in the advertising, consulting and publishing business for 39 years.
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