By Lisa Rosen, LPC
Lost in Technology
Today, it’s common to see people lost in their smartphones, heads dropped, engaged in social media, emails, or games, ignoring everything and everyone around them. This phenomenon is the new normal.
That’s why my recent experience at Impact-Sack Lunches for the Homeless stood out. The organization utilizes volunteers to prepare and hand out sack lunches to Denver’s homeless population. As I stood there, slicing bagels to be passed down the assembly line, I noticed a new phenomenon. It was me, my friends, and strangers, families, kids…all joining and working together on the common goal of helping someone in need. The entire day, I did not see one person on their phone. We were talking, laughing and working together to get the job done. We were doing something thoughtful for someone else, and it felt good – like we were part of something special. From the words of founder Travis Smith, “I can tell you the simple act of kindness toward another human being really changes your perspective. It really is about having a small impact on someone’s life.”
Wired to Attend to Others
Psychologist Daniel Goleman asserts that we are “wired” to attend to others, that our brain is naturally attuned to empathize with other people. And yet, so often, we don’t. Much of the time, Goleman asserts, we are too busy to actually stop and try to understand someone else’s experience. What do we do? How do we start to attune to one another
To start, put down the technology and have a real conversation. What is this person trying to say and why? Why does it matter to them? Ask questions. Listen to the answers. Do something meaningful for someone else. That might be volunteering for a good cause, or it might be noticing that someone in your life could use a pick-me-up. Showing another person empathy is how we relate and feel connected and may even help when we get into those inevitable debates and arguments together!
Show your kids. Impact-Sack Lunches for the Homeless highlights the role of children and teenagers at its events. People from all parts of town come together and get this important job done. When we adults are modeling, participating, and talking about giving back, our kids are watching and listening. When they see us put our phones down, it sends a message: this is important. While social media is out there competing for their time and energy, when children and teenagers understand compassion toward others, they also learn to feel good about themselves.
There is another part of compassion that often gets missed. American journalist, Krista Tippett says, “I think that compassion also is often linked to beauty—and by that I mean a willingness to see beauty in the other, not just what it is about them that might need helping.” We need to see the beauty in someone else… whether it’s someone who shouts profanity in the wind on a street corner or maybe just someone with whom you disagree. It takes effort to understand and learn more; to figure out why they are the way they are and not just make simplistic assumptions. Understanding there is always more to the picture helps us cope and deal with other people.
Authentic Human Connection
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