Recently, my great friend Jeremy told me about a daily mission he had committed himself to.
Every time I have an interaction with someone in public I make an honest effort to really connect with them. I no longer robotically answer when a cashier or server asks me how my day is going or if I found everything ok. I pull myself into the present and warmly answer with a genuine response.
I make it my mission to find some way, no matter how small in those few minutes or moments to connect with them. I’m sure this makes them feel appreciated and connected, but it’s also skyrocketed the fulfillment I receive out of every day interactions with strangers.
This experiment fascinated me and I committed to creeping out every stranger I met…. er… connecting with them. Keep reading to find out why I’m a jerk and how I broke the law.
Jerk face in Lane Six.
First, I quickly realized how much I unconsciously communicate with other people in public. Seriously… I think that’s kind of a jerk face move.
I’m wagging my finger at myself in disappointment right now.
Behind every face is a whole story we know nothing about. Dreams they are doubting, bills outweighing paychecks, pants producing muffin tops… you know real humans with hearts + heartaches.
If someone makes an effort to communicate with us; we should take the time to genuinely respond.
Don’t worry if they are being a robot too and just cruising through the motions, because I quickly discovered that…
Your Presence Will Elicit Theirs.
Through this quirky lil’ experiment, I learned a checker at my local supermarket was totally friggin’ jazzed about a vegan BBQ they were hosting that night. You should have heard the excitement in his squeaky voice.
I discovered another was a total movie junkie and attends a ridiculous amount of midnight screenings. He also blew the ending of X-Men for me, but I forgave him.
The 7-11 attendee on my street hooked me up with a free piece of candy just for making her laugh. Sorry Mom, sometimes experiments mean you have to break the law.
I noticed when I became present I was able to flip that switch in the other person too. We were both given a gift.
All of a sudden their glazed eyeballs would light up just a little bit and I knew I had pulled them back into the present. Instead of numbly going through the motions, they felt human again.
Maybe I’m just a weirdo?
…but this revelation totally jazzed me.
That I could give the gift us presence to others + myself if I took responsibility for my actions in ordinary moments.
That I could feel good about giving respect to other people and truly hear them when they tried to connect with me over the buzz of the grocery scanner.
Gift it forward.
After you make this discovery you realize you have a responsibility to not cheat others out of a moment to connect. Of course, you could say you cheat yourself as well, but we all know we will do more for others than we will ever do for ourselves.
So make it about them.
Tune in a deliver the gift of your attention to someone else who may really need it.
Are you in?
Will you make it a mini-mission this week? Can you put your iPhone away in the check out line and make a total stranger crack a smile? Can you bring yourself back to the present in the presence of others?
If your in, comment below with “I’m in!” or personally TWEET ME.
If you’re lucky, you might even get some free candy out of it… but please do not call me from the holding cell if your luck goes south 😉
We’re in this together friends, let’s take responsibility for our ability to make an impact — no matter how small.
Photo by: Leslie Miller