Many of us may feel that we have much to do each day. And the list prevails. We make the list, we cross off the list, and we feel accomplishment in doing so. I'm not sure there is anything wrong with this largely American mindset and thriving on productivity. Yes, it's a good feeling to knock off your list and feel you got things done! I admit it for myself.
But so much of what we do is just carelessly floating through, burning through time. It's a much more precious commodity, actually. Most of have on our lists have multiple errands: It could be dropping off clothes at the drycleaners, getting our car fixed, scheduling an appointment for the dentist. And while these are all necessary, here is the thought... Are we really here to just burn through our errands?
Maybe it's not just another errand. It's an opportunity to express caring, thoughtfulness and patience in the moment. Sometimes, I try to think about the person behind the drycleaning counter: What if it were my sister? I'd be overjoyed. How fun to see my sister or my mom when I am doing an errand! It would bring so much joy and lightness and "I'm-looking-forward-to-it-ness" to this moment.
But here's the gentle revelation. They are. They are someone's sister, someone's mom, someone's favorite aunt. And as such, they are special to someone. So why shouldn't we treat this moment with care and joy, special as well?
Even if we can't take it to that level, we can still truly engage with them. Care sincerely about their day. Ask if they have had a chance to see the sun outside, what they have planned for the weekend, or wish them well by acknowledging the good work they are doing, or perhaps that they get off early tonight from their hard days' work. Look them in the eyes. Be patient to not just grab the groceries and run out the door. Slow down, to appreciate the opportunity of expressing genuine connection between two good people.
Take the time. Be present in your errands. Listen. Engage. Value the person. They aren't just providing a service to you, or helping you knock off your list. It's a person of value, the time will be spent, and why not make it meaningful?
To take it to a higher level, think even about the phone conversations. That's tougher. Because there is no eye contact. Which makes it easier to be terser, more efficient, less connected. But what if you are on the airlines with Southwest, and while the computer flights come up, you ask them how their day was? Could you change their experience to a super positive one? Would it not then have ripple effects at their dinnertable that night, at yours? Doing good feeds doing more good, and cascades the positive good will to others.
Try it. I am still working on it. It's a good practice to make habit. And the pressure to rush may vie against us, but the feeding of increased happiness, care and connection builds a life of meaning and fullness that is hard to fill by another means.
Philanthropy is the Love of people. It's not just about money.
Pamela Hawley is Founder and CEO of UniversalGiving™ (http://www.universalgiving.org). UniversalGiving™ is an awardwinning website allowing people to give and volunteer with the top performing projects all over the word.