Be Super—Show You Care
We have lost one of the most powerful ways of connecting with one another and letting someone else know how much they matter to you. Yes, even a total stranger. It’s called, “The Art of Asking Questions.” It is such a simple tool to show someone you care, but it doesn’t mean we use it enough. It is also how we get to know one another on a deeper level.
How do these questions make you feel, and when is the last time someone asked them of you?
How are you?
How is your family?
What are your hopes for the week?
If you could go on vacation right now, where would you go?
How are things at work? At home?
How did you meet your significant other?
What do you love to do in your free time?
If you could have one wish, what would it be?
What is your greatest fear?
What is your greatest accomplishment?
Think of five people in your daily life, then write down five questions that you want to ask each of them. You might ask each of them the same questions, or have specific questions for each of them. Totally your call. Once you have your people and their questions, ask away. Enjoy connecting with them and discovering more about them, potentially even their superpowers. Also, take close note of how it makes them feel. Don’t be surprised if they ask you, “Why are you asking me these questions?” The truth is, they are probably not used to it … which is all the more proof and reason we need for doing it. Nice work helping them know how much they each matter to you.
Be Aware—Look Around
Many of us go through our day isolated from the world by our own little private bubbles. We have our routines; we drive the same routes to work or to school or to the store; we order the same meals at the same restaurants; we watch the same shows. We are locked into our own little worlds—horse blinders and all.
At the same time, life seems to be getting faster and faster, and we’re getting busier and busier, so we live with a constant sense that we never have enough time. To counter this feeling, we want everything quicker. We microwave, we drive-through, we look for the shortest line, we drive over the speed limit.
Add to the mix the beautiful 4K-and-up screens of our smartphones that are always in our hands, and all of this has left us disconnected and unaware of the amazing beauty and life that surrounds us every single day. The fact is that unless you never leave your home, you come in contact with so many people every day, yet there is a good chance that you don’t even notice. Tragically, though, in not noticing, we miss out on so many wonders and moments in life. We also miss out on countless opportunities to be of service and to let helping people know how much they matter.
Think of someone that you see every day but you haven’t taken the time to truly get to know yet. Maybe it is someone at the dry cleaners, the security guard at work, the teller at your bank, your gardener, or your mail-delivery person. In doing this, you will probably be shocked at how many people you encounter on any given day, and how many of them work in service positions and serve you. Think of a way to make sure they know how much they matter to you the next time you see them. It will be an incredible and meaningful surprise for them. Be creative. Be caring. Be cool.
Be There—Be a Friend to Have a Friend
Life is not meant to be done alone. We are social creatures and need one another deeply in order to survive and hopefully thrive. Sorry, introverts, this applies to you as well. The problem is that we keep doing everything possible to keep ourselves from being in community, from having friends. Instead, we simply complain, “It’s really hard to make friends nowadays.” I hear this all the time, and it drives me nuts. I have a solution: Stop complaining about not having friends, and instead flip the script and say, “Today, I am going to focus on being someone’s friend.” No more victim mentality. No more sitting at home and waiting for a new friend to knock on the door. Not only will this decrease the complaining, it will increase the friending.
But being a friend is not always easy. We have all been hurt by friends before. They have broken our trust. They haven’t shown up when we needed them most. Feel familiar? But we can’t let these scars keep us from engaging with one another. We still have to offer our fullest selves, vulnerabilities, fears, and all in order to create the friendships we all so desperately want and need.
Think of a friend that you have not been in touch with in over a year. Call that person to check in. Convey that you were thinking about him or her and wanted to catch up. Better yet, if the person lives near you, go out to lunch or for coffee and spend some quality time together. And when you see or talk to the person, ask him or her what you can do to be an even better friend. Have you ever been asked that question by a friend before? It’s gonna be good. Oh, and for the record, if the friend is within an hour’s drive, that’s still “near” you, so make it a face-to-face experience.
Be Present—Moments Matter
Life is defined by moments. Especially ones that matter. One of the greatest gifts we can give to one another is our undivided attention. First of all, this means we are giving of our time—time that we will never get back. Second, it communicates that whatever others’ needs are in the given moment, we are there for them, and they matter. But how often do we get that present with people? How often do we completely shut everything else out, from our devices to our thoughts to our needs, to just be in the moment—to be truly connected and be there for someone? The truth is—not enough.
It’s time for us to be more present. To connect more deeply with one another and to create meaningful moments that can lead to meaningful relationships. For without these, life can be a real bitch … at any point in the journey.
Establish a “Be-Present Buddy” system with someone in your life. The goal is to create a buddy system with someone wherein both parties agree to truly be present with one another in special circumstances. Of course, we all want to be this way with all of our interactions and relationships at all times, but this is different. This is the person that you can go to when you are having a tough moment, making a big life decision, or simply feeling the need for some focused connection. This system is an agreement to be that rock for one another—to listen without judgment or distraction and to provide loving feedback and opinions. This is about moments that matter.
Be Creative—Write It Out
There is something special about handwritten notes. They can’t be written with our thumbs. They can’t be deleted by the press of a button. And, truth be told, they are unfortunately rare, borderline extinct, these days. But we are powerful with a piece of paper and a pen in our hand. It gives us great agency to lovingly and kindly let someone else know how much they matter to us. Even a tiny note written with a Sharpie on a Post-it Note can brighten someone’s day.
So put down your phone. Stop typing on your keyboard. Reconnect with the joy you felt when you first learned how to write cursive in the third grade. Think about someone in your life, or several people, who would love nothing more than to receive a handwritten note from you. Then, of course, take a meaningful moment to write and deliver your little gift.
Just be prepared for how special it is going to be for both you and the person you wrote it to.
Write out a list of five people in your life, alive or passed on, from whom it would mean the world to you to receive a handwritten, heartfelt note. Got your list? Perfect. Now go write and deliver one to each of them. I promise it will mean the world to them as well.