When was the last time you went out to eat? If your experience was anything like mine, you might have seen more people on their phones than actually talking to one another. With all of the marvelous technology at our fingertips today, we are also losing the sense of connection to one another. The art of interpersonal relationships is in danger of becoming extinct.
And it’s not just at the restaurant or cafe. Often a nice dinner at home is interrupted by texts and calls, or even worse, the evening meal is just a background activity that accompanies the latest television show. You can see it when you’re walking down the street or on the morning commute. Step into a train, and you see everyone there with headphones on, checking out their messages, email, texts or playing a game until they arrive at their destination. It’s more and more common to be plugged into our device’s, rather than being present to the world around us. This is a sad situation, but there is still hope.
The first step is awareness. Take some time to remember that the world is full of beauty. Look around. You might miss the things that matter most if you don’t put the phone down from time to time. More than that, real human connection is one of the most beautiful things in the world. It’s what makes our lives worth living. If we become aware of the marvelous world we miss each time we plug in, we can stop and reconsider our actions.
Another way is to involve the other person in the decision making. Say you’re at the café and your phone rings. It’s really simple to ask the person you’re sitting with, “do you mind if I answer my phone?” It lets them know you value their company and their preferences. A tiny gesture of respect can work wonders. If you want to take an extra step, you could leave the phone in your bag while catching up with your friend. All those messages might be able to wait until you finish your time together. I certainly know that my time spent with friends is far more important than my messages and emails.
How about this one? Just try to meet the eyes of the people you pass on the street. You may find this a bit challenging at first, but it can be amazingly empowering. Maybe even say hello. You don’t need permission to give a greeting to the people you run across, and it can lead to some truly meaningful interaction. Even if it’s nothing more than a smile, you have touched the other person’s life in a way that could make their day, bring them out of the dumps and lift their spirits.
These are some simple ways to reconnect with the world and with one another. We need to stop looking down at our technology and look up at the beautiful world around us. Go on, give it a try and see how it feels. You might find that you really enjoy interacting with your friends and loved ones. And you may find stunning beauty in the walk down the road.
Blessings and happy connections to each of you.