This is the Christmas season. That time of year when people are of “good cheer.” Okay, not all the people. Some are busy, tired, pressured, and stressed to their physical capacity. In this season I want to encourage you to remember the people behind the giving. Your presence is the best present you can give.
Stop. Look. Listen. (Validate). This should be a new awareness campaign. These three little words serve as a very simple reminder. A reminder to live in the present. A reminder to savor the moment. There are three universal needs that all people in this world share. Stop, look and listen helps us to meet the need.
- First, what should be obvious, but often is not, you have to stop what you are doing and pay attention to your surroundings. We are all busy, I get that. This is a crazy, busy world. We have places to go and things to do. Yet, I would argue that a busy life doesn’t always make for a blessed life, a happy life, a life that is truly lived. I would also argue that no one is really THAT busy. I know this all too well. I’m a planner, a developer. I have my schedule and list of activities written down and mentally scheduled long before the sun rises on the day. I loathe interruptions. It is something I work on constantly. I am busy, that is true. But, if you are too busy for your fellow-man (woman) then I would say the problem does not lie within your schedule but within your character. You are as busy as you choose to be. In this season be encouraged to STOP.
- Second, people have a need to be seen. Hence, the selfie epidemic. We all go about our business, living our own lives, doing our own thing. In this crazy, busy world, consisting of 7.5 Billion people, people have a tendency to feel invisible, overlooked, unimportant in the grand scheme of things. People often question; Do I really matter? Does anyone care that I exist? Some people spend their entire lives in search of meaning. In search of purpose. Feeling disengaged. Stop what you are doing. Look someone in the eye. Give them a kind smile, a polite hello, in passing. Throw out a sweet “Happy Holidays” or “Merry Christmas” or whatever you prefer. Why, yes, I am encouraging you to talk to strangers. Let someone know they matter. LOOK at them. Actually see the individual.
- Third, people need to be heard. Did you really hear what I’m saying? I always told my children; “You can’t hear me if you are talking.” The same holds true today. Are you really hearing the other person, or are you looking at our watch, phone, tablet, or laptop instead? Are you thinking about your schedule? Are your arms folded against your chest? Are you day dreaming how you wish they would just shut up!? I am a fairly good listener. I’ve learned that when a person shares a story with you they are actually sharing a piece of their essence with you. Listening is not rocket science, but it does require us to suppress our ego and put someone else first. Listen to the person’s story. Hear exactly what it is they have to say. Engage with them so they know you have heard them. Ask questions about their interests. Be present in the moment. Be excited for them when they are excited. Show empathy in awareness of their hurt (anger is often unresolved hurt). You don’t have to fix it, just hear it. Yes, you might have a million other “things” to get done, but nothing in this world, no THING, is more important than a person and their story. LISTEN to them. Actually hear what they have to say.
- (Validating) If you haven’t already guessed it, the validating is the easy part. If you stop, look and genuinely listen, people feel validated. It is an easy way to show people they matter. Well, then, why isn’t it being done regularly, you might ask? Only YOU can answer that question. The best way to validate an individual is to: Stop, Look, and Listen.
Time is the only commodity you can’t recapture. Once you spend it, it is gone, FOREVER. That is exactly why your presence is the most valuable gift you can give to another individual. No material item, no present, can ever substitute for the essence, truth, beauty, honor, dignity, grace, love, care, of the person you are and that which you share in every moment you chose to be present. This season, be encouraged to give PRESENCE >PRESENTS.