kindnessThe other day I came upon an article that began, “Our minds crave novelty, connection and meaning, and our everyday life can feel dull when nothing “pops out” at us.” We many not always feel that we do, but as retirees we have the capacity to make things ‘pop out’ for us on a regular basis. Sure, I’ve often––as I’m sure you have––heard people say, “I’m so busy, I don’t know where the time goes.”  I often think that myself, but this article got me thinking.

In this story Michael Stanclift, a naturopathic doctor, discusses how we can get lost doing our own things and ignore chances at human interaction––the stuff that brings connection and meaning to our lives. Sometimes I find it all too easy to get caught up in the project of the moment and neglect connecting with those who mean so much to me or with those who could become an important part of my life. Sometimes that can happen right within our own homes around people we live with day in and day out.

Dr. Stanclift offers helpful steps  to transform the ordinary into something meaningful and exciting and I’m taking the liberty to pass along his thoughts in the hope that it will make your day a bit more joyful.  He suggests:

1. Connect to compassion: Everyone desires the same things––to be happy and free from fear and suffering. No matter our specific circumstances we all experience pain, joy, isolation and connectivity. Feel this in your chest, close your eyes briefly to see if it helps you connect.

2. Be curious: Whether you’ve known someone for years or you just happen to be standing next to each other in line at the DMV, ask yourself “What interests me about this person?” Ask questions that encourage a story or explanation. Try not to get caught in your internal chatter. When you notice it, gently refocus your attention on listening or sharing.

3. Share yourself: We must invest before we will experience a return. Offer what you can, whether it be a gesture of courtesy, a story or something material. You are likely to change someone’s day from a simple act or words you say.

4. Understand: Occasionally you may be met with hostility or an inappropriate response. Remind yourself you have no responsibility for someone’s reaction to you. You are only in control of how you react to them. It may be helpful to reconnect to your feeling of compassion.

5. Reflect: When your interaction has ended and you have a moment to yourself, ask “what did I learn from this?” “What were the themes?” “What were the lessons?” Your interpretation will likely provide insight of how you are being in the world at the moment.

Check out Dr. Stancliff’s  articles on Huffington Post, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-stanclift-nd/ if you’d like.  You may find a world of interesting ideas. We’d love to hear your comments on his recommendations, too. Please share your thoughts.