Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Great minds discuss ideas, mediocre minds discuss events, small minds discuss other people.”
What kind of conversations are you having? Is your life focused on gossiping about your co-worker, or does J. Lo’s dating advice on Tinder got your attention? I will suggest there might be a bigger world out there.
We have numbed ourselves to what’s really important. Our focus has become small. People get cut off in traffic and immediately blast this indiscretion on Facebook. If you have a political opinion different from others you get multitudes weighing in, oftentimes hurling insults, telling you why your beliefs are wrong and you must see things their way. How’s that going?
In recent years, politicians have launched “listening tours,” whatever those are. In theory, the politico wants to be portrayed as genuinely concerned about the issues of the day. Entertaining his/her constituent’s voices, the politician seemingly wants to engage in conversation; to listen. There’s no honest dialogue, and the great portrayal becomes the big betrayal. Nothing changes.
I will offer there is another way…
When you rearrange the letters in the word ‘listen,’ you get silent. I don’t believe it’s accidental.
What might happen if we put our personal differences and insecurities aside, engaged with each other in meaningful conversation, and listened to each other?
How many times have you been talking to someone, yet while they are speaking you are ready with your reply before they even finish their sentence? We all do it. That’s called hearing, not listening. Active listening requires real effort, and it can be exhausting.
The human spirit is designed for growth. Think of your brain like a muscle. The more you use it the stronger it becomes. Reading People Magazine and watching hours of television diminishes your capacity to think. At the very least it changes what you are thinking about, and impacts your conversations. Garbage in, garbage out, so-to-speak. Fortunately, the entropy of your brain I’m describing can be reversed.
Deeper, mind-stretching conversation expands your thinking while possibly reshaping your worldview. Be fearless when considering others’ opinions and beliefs. It’s not a threat to your convictions to see the world through different eyes. Be open-minded.
Our differences can make us better, stronger and more connected. They do not have to divide us. See through to the hearts of others, and let them see you for who you are. We can accomplish this, if we’re willing…