“Please take responsibility for the energy you bring into this space” ~ Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor
1) Make Eye Contact
It doesn’t matter if it’s your best friend, sitting at the edge of your bed, telling you every small detail of the documentary he watched at two o’clock this morning or a stranger making small talk about the weather at the grocery store.
Always, when a person is reaching out to you, stop what you are doing and look them in their eyes.
Everyone is worthy of your full attention. Don’t wander.
We live in a fast-paced world. We are taught efficiency. But there’s always time for human connection. We are so afraid that if we take our eyes off the milk selection at the grocery store for five minutes and look into the face of the sweet woman standing beside us, our entire day is going to fall apart, but I’m here to tell you that, that is an irrational fear.
Do it consciously until it comes to you naturally, and eventually you will realize that you have the time to spare… and frankly once you start you’ll never want to stop! There are stories in people’s eyes that are not in their voices, and for some people, you will be the only one all day who cares enough to read them.
There is not a more moving feeling in the world than knowing that you are being truly listened to… give that gift to everyone you come in contact with. Some people will go their whole lives feeling like their thoughts have never been valued. If you could prevent one person from dealing with that, just by giving them a few minutes of your time, why wouldn’t you?
2) Tell Them Why
We all make mistakes, but regardless of what we’ve done, at the very least, we all deserve clarity. Nothing is worse than wondering, especially when we are upset, because the things we imagine in times of sadness are usually worse than reality.
You have the right to be angry and the right to express your anger.
You don’t have the right to unravel people, and leave their seams hanging, to get caught on everything they walk past for the rest of their lives. When a person has wronged you, clarify the specific action that angered you. Don’t leave them thinking their very existence is infuriating. It’s not. Everyone has redeeming qualities.
That certainly does not mean you need to stay in toxic platonic, or romantic relationships. In fact, if a relationship is toxic I encourage you to go. Go far, and go quickly. But just remember that there is always a productive and kind way to go about every move you make in life. Never do anything with the sole intention of hurting another person.
Even if you consider that person human garbage, and you don’t think they deserve decency, remember that they have people who love and care for them… innocent people that will feel their pain.
3) Make Compliments Count
Of course it’s always a nice gesture to make a compliment, but if you really want to turn a person’s day around, take your time and really think about why you appreciate that person.
“I like your shoes” is nice to hear, but “I love how genuine you are” is nicer, because chances are that person is not the only one who owns those shoes, and chances are those shoes won’t last forever, but they’re the only one who has their personality and it will surely last forever!
Although this might be more challenging with a stranger, if you’re following the first step, of looking everyone in the eye and listening to what they have to say, I’m sure you will find something you really value in that person, in no time at all! For example, “Thank you for asking me how I was, and then actually taking the time to listen. I can tell you are a very caring person and you’ve made my day,” will mean a lot more to them than “cute shirt.”
Even when you are speaking to your best friends, your family, or your lover take your time!
“I love you” warms the heart, but when you hear it twice a day it starts to sound less and less meaningful. “I love you because you are so strong and wise” puts the purpose and the effort back in it. Just like we deserve to know why you are mad at us, we deserve to know why you love us, too! What is it that we’ve done to earn such love?
Sometimes, we have to remind each other of why we are all worthy of the space we take up on Earth, because some of us tend to forget from time to time.
4) Hug tight, smile back and laugh along
Always smile back.
Yes, I know, it is cliché, but I’m proud that it is! It should be. We should all have been told time and time again that when a person smiles at us, we should return the favor.
And when a person laughs, let it be contagious. Don’t fight the urge to laugh along (unless of course, the laughter is at someone else’s expense).
I can’t think of a better way to promote someone’s happiness, than to show them that it is contagious. Everyone should be told, “Your happiness is my happiness. I need your happiness. You need to have it, because you need to share it! Your gestures of happiness do not go unnoticed, or unappreciated. I love your smile. I love your laugh. They are beautiful. They give me butterflies. They make my day. Don’t stop expressing them!”
And when you give a hug, hug with purpose. Use your body to tell people, “You deserve to be held. Your warmth is my warmth.”
If you want to save people, let them know that they are saviors too.
5) Love Yourself
We’re all at the same risk of becoming a statistic. Be kind to yourself, too.
The simplest way to save the world is to treat each person like they are a bone in your body, to be gentle with them, to nurse them back to health, to care for them as if you can actually feel their brokenness beneath your skin. But if you don’t know what it’s like to heal yourself, how do you expect to heal anyone else?
Each day you make a brand new imprint in the world. If you want it to matter, start with yourself. Start the second you open your eyes in the morning.
Pretend a much younger version of you is watching. Set an example. Be the person you’d want your younger self to look up to. Smile at the sun pouring over your windowsill.
Let the new day wrap its arms gently around you as you stretch your limbs. Feel every muscle in your body come to life, and think of how wonderful it is.
Stand in front of the mirror and fall in love with your bed head. Do not step out into the world, until you are the best version of yourself.
If you want to save a life today, you need to live a life that’s worth hanging onto.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Catherine Monkman