Stop. Look. and Listen.
Your words are powerful. They can build hope, crush self esteem, open hearts, and close doors. Yes, your words whether spoken, handwritten, emailed, texted, or recorded have a lasting impression.
This past month, I have been noticing those precious moments when someone truly responds to my question, "how are you?" (side note, I ask because I actually care to know) versus when they simply react with, "I'm fine." Recently, a friend of mine said, "well, my father passed, my husband is working too hard, I haven't slept in three days, I've starting yelling at people while driving, I've doubled my coffee intake just to make it through the day and my children are feeling the burden." I was glad that she 'released' a little. I hugged her for a long while and just started to breath a little deeper until she began to breath as well. Admittedly, sometimes our words don't feel sufficient to bolster someone's struggle...but our actions are powerful tools as well.
So this month, I'm continuing my practice with a mantra that I picked up from grade school. "Stop, look, and listen." This was something that one of my grade school teachers used to say when she really wanted the attention of one of us more 'unruly' children. I think she may have swiped it from an Officer Friendly presentation, but I digress. These three words worked like a charm. Seriously, I thought they were magic.
Turns out they really were. And still are.
The most precious gift you can give to any one individual is your attention. This month, add these three words to your internal dialogue. Stop, look, and listen. Stop what you're doing, look the person in the face, and truly listen. This is the practice of 'giving your attention'. And it works just as well on those around you as it is does for your own internal dialogue.
Here's the "advanced" practice. What are you really saying (awareness)? Why are you saying it (intention)? What good will it do you or someone else (highest possible outcome)?
So when you ask someone how they are doing. Mean it. Be prepared to listen with your whole heart. Heck, if nothing else, your gift may help take at least one crazed driver off the road.