We share this world and need each other to survive. We bond with people closest to us and discover our interconnectedness with those far away. Although we may seem to live separate lives, we understand that we are still one global community. We support each other, even from a distance.
When I learn of the hardship of people I do not know personally, I pretend they are members of my family. Then I mentally put myself in their place and imagine how it feels to be them. That quick mental exercise is one of the best ways I know to develop empathy for my fellow human beings. Once I feel empathy, interconnectedness automatically forms.
Several years ago, when I was in graduate school out of state, I took the long bus ride back to my hometown for the holidays to see my family. A young man in his early 20s sat down next to me. Within minutes, he was telling me his story. Most of what he shared was about various troubles he had gotten into—some quite serious.
He told of his relationship problems with an older woman, 20 years his senior, who couldn’t stay away from the casinos. She borrowed all the money he had in his savings account and then skipped town, leaving him broke. Of course, she also broke his heart; he had planned on marrying her.
The young man went on to say that he hadn’t spoken to his family in over a year—not since he left home after a major falling out with his parents. He had been on the road ever since, moving from place to place. His last job was in Las Vegas where he met the aforementioned woman he wanted to marry. Now, he was on the road again, hoping for another fresh start.
I had no answers for him, nor did I have any reason to believe he wanted answers from me. He just needed someone to care enough to listen to his problems. Maybe he just wanted to feel valued and know that he mattered. This is one example of many where listening to a stranger can be a form of caring.
Of course, sometimes the people who are suffering are people we already know. It isn’t hard to find opportunities to help others. Just look around you at people who are feeling down or have low self-esteem. Practically everyone is hurting in one way or another.
You can increase your sensitivity to the people around you who are sad and lonely. They are everywhere. If the light of hope has gone out in their eyes, that’s your signal to form interconnectedness.
If you are in a well-lit, safe environment, say hello to people on the street. Give them a smile. At the very least, acknowledge their existence. Don’t treat them like they’re invisible. Remember they are members of your global family. Simply making eye contact with a kind look on your face can make all the difference.
At work, you may see people who look as if the sun has set too soon on their lives and the dim light of depression surrounds them. Although you cannot cure them, at the very least you can keep them in your thoughts and send them light from your spirit.
It may seem hokey to believe that sending pleasant thoughts to someone can make them feel better. However, your thoughts, positive or negative, can actually be seen when physically manifested in the form of a facial expression. Thinking pleasant thoughts softens your gaze, which in turn benefits those around you.
At home, when someone has had a hard day and it looks like they are overwhelmed, you can reach out and provide a shelter from their emotional storm. Ask if they feel like talking. If not, you can still help reduce their stress by being kind and avoiding any arguments that day.
And of course, always show compassion to yourself. If life seems like a struggle, give yourself a break. Be patient with yourself. You will succeed eventually through perseverance. Just look at how far you have already come and have courage.
Today’s Loving Suggestion: And now, I have a promise for you, personally. Whenever you are feeling down, remember I am emotionally rooting for you, even if we have never met. If you want to feel interconnected with the world, just keep in mind that you are never alone. We are all in this together.
If you have followed any of the suggestions in the Sir Rennity feature, I would love to hear your stories. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will keep your letters private unless you request that they be published.
The Sir Rennity feature is intended to provide gentle guidance for your life. These articles hold no intrinsic meaning. You give meaning to them based on the value you place on them, so the words here are meaningless unless you put them into practice.