Saturday, April 25, 2009

Hi! How are you??

We all exchange such common pleasantries, but I don't think for the most part, that we really think about it much...or expect a real answer beyond "Doing great, how about you?" Imagine if people took a moment to think about what they had just been asked and then answered and/or acted accordingly! Are you - Happy? Sad? Scared and a bit afraid to come out of your shell? Having an identity crisis? Ready to celebrate? Maybe feeling a bit wired? Sassy? Confused? Silly? Anxious? Or do you even know?

We are a society on the move though, and most people just don't take the time out of their busy lives to really consider how they or other people are really feeling - physically or emotionally. I honestly believe that a little empathy, as well a little introspection, goes a long way.

Young children and dogs are lucky - they haven't lost that ability to sense a person's feelings. How many of you who spend time around children or dogs (or other pets) notice how quickly they pick up on whether you're sad or happy, angry or pleased, or perhaps not feeling well. I know my kids always tended to act out more when I was stressed or frustrated - probably because it made their lives feel a little less secure and safe. On the other hand, all of my children are pretty empathetic and some of the best hugs I ever got were on days when I was struggling thru a migraine or some retrospectively silly emotional stress. I know our dogs definitely have a sense of our emotional and physical states. When we're having a bad day or not feeling well, they'll snuggle more, and nuzzle and wag their tails gently as if to say "hey, I know things aren't great, but I love you!"

I think it's important to take a quick survey of how you personally are feeling before you do anything significant - and it's probably equally important to take a moment and consider how the people around you are feeling before you share that latest tidbit of news with them, or bring up the dirty underwear on the floor, or start talking about things that are making you mad, happy, afraid, etc.

There's a theory that everything we do in life is done in response to two basic emotions - fear or love. Fear is believed to be the defining force behind violence, jealousy, bigotry, anger, depression, greed, hatred, lies, insecurity, frustration and worry, just to name a few. On the flip side of the coin, love makes wonderful emotions possible. Happiness, confidence, healthfulness, creativity, security, energy, satisfaction, and serenity are all by-products of love.

Makes sense to me. What causes most conflict? Did you have that argument with your spouse over finances simply because you were mad that he or she lost their job? Or were you afraid that you wouldn't be able to pay the important bills, or even on a higher level that perhaps your relationship couldn't bear the strain of the economic stresses or that you were losing that feeling of security that you had in the past? Or were you just being selfish and feeling sorry for yourself because it meant that you wouldn't be able to add to your shoe or purse collection? Do you feel jealous of that coworker because he or she is getting so much more notice or because you're afraid that no one will notice you? Did you lie about your education at that dinner party you went to simply so people wouldn't look down on you for not having a degree or attending a major university? Are you yelling at your kids because you don't understand how they can be so disrespectful or because you're afraid that they aren't learning the skills they need to survive and be happy in life?

It's precisely times like that when I try to step back and think about not only how I'm feeling, but how the other person must be feeling. And while I don't always succeed, it's about returning to love. In my personal relationships, (and I'm very fortunate to have a husband who does the same) I try to remind myself as well as the other person that somehow things will work out, and if we don't have anything else, we still have each other and that's more important than anything else.

Thinking about what is driving your reactions is something I've tried very hard to impart to my children as well. It's important in life to take a moment to assess before you react, to comfort rather than fan emotional flames, to empathize rather than judge. Sometimes it's hard to take an honest look at how you "are", but it is so helpful to know that the bottom line is that our ability to experience and identify such a wide range of emotions are part of what make us, as humans, unique from the rest of the animal world. So, the next time you're ready to make a negative knee-jerk reaction to a person or situation, take a second and assess. Ask yourself, "how am I?" and more importantly, "how are you?"

These super fun Etsy shops provided the graphics for today's post - thank you to them for their talent, imagination and "expressiveness"!

Hailey-Rose, a sweet but sassy doll - HelloDollies
Ultra Sinister Circle - ChloesCreatures
RAEWADOLLY Amigurumi Kawaii Hello Kitty in Elephant Costume -RaewaDolly
A Basket Full of Chicks Coasters - Treasures4All
Mikey The Monster In A Rainbow - tekzuki
Because of the Sock Monkeys-Giant Happy Paperclip Trio - FlyingButtons
Its My Birthday Piggy Collectible - Klayfriends


Robert W. Leonard said...

Good post, I think everyone needs to take some time every few months to ask these questions and to make sure they are genuinely happy with who they are. That is something that shouldn't be pushed aside, ever. I've always wondered why people ask questions they really have no interest in hearing an answer for. Most "How are you today" comments come with rolled eyes if you actually tell them.

Anthony Peterson said...

That is so true, MW. People feel alienated because of how other people respond to them. If we take your advice and have an intention of care when we interact with others, we can help make the world a more caring place.

Boutique By Bonnie said...

It's so true. You never know what burdens the other person is walking around with. We should all treat each other with care.

Klayfriends Collectible Jewelry & Clay said...

What a great write up and I thank you so much for graciously putting my birthday piggy on your blog..I am honored.

MagicMarkingsArt said...

Great post...brings to mind the book we just read for book club...the elegance of the hedgehog...are we hiding bits of ourselves from the rest of the world...or are others too concerned about their own lives to take the time to get to know those around them.
thought provoking questions you ask!

Kala Pohl Studio said...

Great post, makes me sit and think for a bit.

Related Posts with Thumbnails