The act of being mindful means to be observant of your thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and surroundings without becoming stuck in one’s mind with analysis and judgment. This is the essence of being present. A present mindset can be extended towards our social interactions. Often times, when we engage others, we tend to size up the situation and the individuals around us by way of self-focused tendencies: self-monitoring of thoughts/self-consciousness, social comparison, thinking of advice or replies to others while they are still talking, prejudgments/assumptions, and just not paying attention to what other people actually have to say.
Interpersonal consideration of what other people may be telling us, both directly and indirectly, is the key to tapping our full capacity to empathize with other people. Because empathy is the act of being able to understand a person’s thoughts and feelings as if we were inside his or her life, being mindful of and truly open to others is one of the most powerful ways to build a genuine connection and extend goodwill to our fellow human beings.
This doesn’t mean that we need to agree with everything anyone ever says. Rather, an honest attempt to understand and listen to another person, instead of projecting and forcing our own perspective, will often go a long way.
Thoughts for the Week
People can be quite infuriating and perplexing at times, but they can also be just as fascinating if one is willing to suspend judgment. There are many people who have the potential to provide us powerful insight; however, they may communicate in a way that seems at odds with our own communication style. So, as long as there is a baseline of physical safety and a lack of toxicity, why not give others outside your comfort zone a chance? With some patience and a reasonable level of open-mindedness, it is quite possible to find a connection or understanding with someone unexpected.