It occurred to me what a shock our culture might be. You know the Parisians will sit outside at cafés in 40 degree weather without a look of complaint on their faces. Drinking infinitesimally small coffees or table wine, they look blissfully unaware that it is cold. They seem so contented just to talk.
I do love this about Paris, though my French friends have become rather busy and swept up into modern life. 20-somethings can still hang out at cafés and retired people, but the working-French are -- well, working. Instead they have dinner parties where there is usually outstanding and lively conversation.
I had a number of such enjoyable nights during my time in France teaching this past fall.
Flying to Brazil for more conversation
I have become a bit hooked on good conversation. This January, I spent two weeks in a small town in Brazil and a friend secretly snapped this photo of one of my satisfying conversations. Looking at the photo, I can see and feel how present I was in this conversation. As well as the love I have for my friend.
In Brazil, I used my computer minimally and without cell service there was not much else to do other than listen to those around me.
January was listening month
This worked out well, because I dedicated January to "Improving my listening skills." This just meant, I wanted to focus on what the other person was saying, not what I wanted say next. Good practice.
I paid attention to what they were saying and asked follow-up questions. I let go of trying to be known and focused on knowing them.
February: listening without trying to change or judge
I upgraded my February goal to, listening without judgement and without trying to change or influence the other person in any way. As a conflict resolution professional and coach, I am often eager to jump in and help folks along their way. Ironically, one way to become one of the world's best coaches, is to spend some time not trying to help at all.
What I mean is, just letting people be.
With so little time for people to communicate fully and deeply, I suspect many problems (ADD, Depression, OCD, Anxiety, Marital Problems, etc) come from lack of human contact. So, if we dive in and try to solve each other's problems, we often miss the opportunity to tend to the isolation at the heart of many symptoms.
Few folks want to be treated like a broken toaster.
If you choose to take on my February goal, I'd love to hear how it goes for you. Feel free to post comments below! Would love to hear how it goes.