The Lost Art Of Listening

not-listening

If there is one blaring part of our great American culture that I have bought in to, it’s the “art” of multitasking: being able to perform multiple tasks at once – usually aided by technology and requiring your brain and body to ultimately be going simultaneously in different directions.

It’s a skill that people put on their resumes. It’s a point of pride for many a workaholic, instant-gratification junkie and jack-of-all-trades.  We can do several things at once and probably do a fairly decent job at all of them if we practice at it.

Technology has enabled us to produce more, faster and reach more people to make things happen than ever before.  It has given us window to a world of stimulus: we can text, stream and download ourselves into a constant state of connectedness.  We can see anything and everything that is happening in the world at any time and completely immerse ourselves in the total energy of our existence.

But at what price?  The cost is our presence in the here and now.  By being constantly connected to everything we run this risk of losing the one thing that humans need to survive:  connection to the people in our lives that are most important to us.  I heard a statistic today that says the number one cause of marital discord is access to the freaking remote control and choice of TV programming.  I imagine smartphones are likely a close second:  being distracted from present conversation because we are engrossed in email, fantasy football, Words With Friends and text messages that have to be answered now now now!

One of my New Year’s resolutions is to make a point to be more present.  To be smart and put away the smart phone so I can connect to the people most important to me:   my wife being the most important one of those.  Because she is the one who knows me better than anyone and helps me grow.  And I can’t return the favor If I am too busy multitasking to listen.

So lets bring back the art of listening.  Lets make a point to put the technology away for a good chunk of time every day and just enjoy being in the present.  And if you are by yourself in the present, it may mean that you listen to what’s going on inside you a little more carefully.  What better way to make the world a better place and be productive and connected than to start with the smallest circle:  you and yours.  The rest of the world will still be there when you get back – and you will be in a better place to take it on if you’ve listened carefully and are armed with peace of mind and genuine empathy for the human experience.

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