Practicing mindfulness with regularity has allowed me to continually look at things from a different perspective, to consider other points of view and important elements of life that I may overlook otherwise. During the holidays I bookmarked a Ted Talk presented by a well-known psychologist named Daniel Goleman entitled 'Why aren't we all Good Samaritans?". I watched the talk a few days later and took some notes. In the Ted Talk, Goleman talks about specific research that digs into the topic of compassion and the reasons why people do not show more of it in every day life.
Goleman discusses the latest research related to compassion and how the major belief is that we, as humans, are wired by default to be caring, helpful, and kind. However, certain factors prevent us from often times looking beyond ourselves. During his own research, Goleman once came across an article in the NY Times that talked about a woman named Alice Charney Epstein and an informal test that she created while in the midst of the dating scene in search of a potential partner. The test was simple and straightforward in nature. Once she had met somebody she was interested in she would actually time how long it took for them to ask her a question with the word 'you' in it. She was obviously looking for someone who showed interest in knowing more about who she was.
As I watched the Ted Talk and thought about the test that Alice Charney Epstein has created, I began to contemplate how often we are engaged in discussions during our own day with colleagues, friends, and family. It is easy to get so caught up and self-absorbed in our own wants and needs that we can often fail to pay even partial attention to the person we are speaking with. Goleman talks about the spectrum of interaction from being totally self-focused to actually noticing, being empathetic and truly compassionate.
I'm not suggesting you pull out your stopwatch every single interaction of the day and time how long it takes for others to ask you a question, but I do encourage all of you (and myself!!) to pay closer attention to how we carry out our conversations with others. Are we mindful of these interactions and listening to the best of our ability? Are we asking genuine questions that show that we are interested and care about the other person? How long does it take us to ask our 'YOU' questions in our daily interactions with those in our lives? Something to think about.
Strive to pay more attention to others, ask 'YOU' questions, and practice compassion.
Neila Steele & Andy Vasily