One goal I have had since being introduced to mindfulness is to improve the quality of my conversations. We all have those moments when our conversations and discussions become automated and insincere. Need an example? Here’s a great one that I was guilty of all the time:
“How’s it going?” or “How are you?”
95% of the time I asked those questions I could really care less what their response was, it was just a lazy way for me to say “hello.” I would simply pretend that I was interested in their well being to ask them for a favor, or talk about something that involved me, not them. I know I am not the only one who does this, it’s become a generic greeting, more than a genuine question. Seriously, how often are you asked, “How are you?” Do you feel that person even cares what your response is, or are they just trying to shuffle you along?
Since practicing mindfulness, I have improved in this area, but like any routine I have moments where I relapse into my automated responses and see my conversations with others as burdens rather than opportunities. Luckily, this now happens very rarely, and I have reaped considerable benefits from working on my conversations with others.
I am now more personable to my coworkers, and family, but I have felt the greatest reward from the strangers I run into around town. Before I would barely talk to the cashiers at the grocery store, waitresses at restaurants, or the receptionist at the doctor’s office. I would keep my conversations short and to the point, or accidentally fall into the trap of asking, “how are you” without the slightest care of what their answer would be.
I am not a philosopher, but I feel that when you send out positive energy, it will always work its way back to you. Since focusing on improving the quality of my conversations, I have now had great conversations and interactions with perfect strangers. I often share heartfelt laughs with them, which brightens both of our days.
I am also putting emphasis into giving sincere and genuine compliments to the merchants and workers who go out of their way to help me. Many have such thankless jobs, and it feels very good to share the appreciation we all feel, but seldom share. I have noticed the more proactive and positive I am in my interactions and conversations with others, the better I feel at the end of the day.
Since focusing on improving the quality of conversations I have with others, I have felt not only better about myself, but society as a whole. It’s very easy to be a cynic and say that the world is going to hell in a hand-basket when you are avoiding true interactions with others. We make judgments of others with little to no information about them. I loved to complain about the lack of compassion people show to each other as they barge past others at Costco, skip in line at the movie theater, or cut me off in traffic. I would take it personal, thinking their actions were always purposeful and vindictive.
Maybe the reason we feel no one cares, and that society is going down hill, is because we deep down aren’t not engaging with each other on a quality level. We worry about our own interests and see others as merely obstacles in our way. It was easy to be bitter, but I have thoroughly enjoyed my reconnection to human race by engaging in one quality conversation at a time. Putting in the effort to show everyone around you that you care, whether they are friends, family, coworkers, or even someone you just met will definitely brighten your day!