It is hard to be mindful and focus on one thing when there are so many things pushing in all at once. Sometimes I like to imagine I am in a box and I can push the walls out to give myself space to be able to focus more completely on one thing at a time. I push the walls by meditating or exercising or literally pushing back and saying ‘no’ to things. I push the walls by taking a moment to breathe or to be quiet or to look outside at the sky. I push the walls by holding my arms out and refusing to let anything distract me from what I want to be present with in that moment (spouse, kids, family, friends, sunset, sunrise, delicious scone, and so on).
If I were my own best friend I would tell myself to make space – to be able to be present and focused – push out the walls. Do you ever do this? What kind of things do you do to give yourself mental space?
Title: A Helping Hand
Author: this blog
Characters : Lion and person
Lion: ROOOOARRR ROWR Ro-Ro-ROAR (I am really really not having a great time and I could use some help, like a hand, a helping hand. I am struggling.) ROAR.
Person: Hey lion. I can help. What do you need? Can I lend a hand? That is unfortunate you are struggling.
Lion: Roar. (That would be great. I could sure use some help. Come in.)
Person: (walks into lion’s den) So lion, what’s going on? What can I do?
Lion: Roooo-ar (Well, I could really use a hand)
Person: OK….. Owwwwwwch.
Lion: Nom-nom-nom (hand tastes good)
OK, I know. Sooo wrong. Sooo very wrong. But it’s been in my head for a couple weeks now and I finally decided to go for it and post it. But I know, soooo wrong.
Now if I were my own best friend I would say there a few lessons to be learned here from lion and person –
- Lion might be kind of a jerk (or maybe lion’s not ready for help).
- Lion asks for help but maybe lion really just wanted to take advantage of some person’s good nature and eat their hand (jerk).
- Or, lion asked for help but did not really want help or was not ready for help. Sometimes asking for help and then receiving it is a big scary step. Sometimes you might want to be a lion out on the plains doing your own lion-thing and not need anyone else for anything else. Freedom and dependence on no one. But here is the thing about being human – we need other people. We need community.
- Sometimes we need help.
- Person might not be very bright (or very committed to helping).
- Don’t offer a hand unless you are willing to truly give a hand (to a lion).
- Think about what you are offering and make sure you are not being taken advantage of (by a lion or a jerk).
- But also do not offer to help someone unless you really mean it – usually offering help does not mean literally giving your hand but sometimes it means giving up time or money or both and you have to be ready for that.
- Sometimes we need to offer help.
So basically it comes down to this. If you need help, ask for it, and be ready to accept help if someone offers up. And if you answer the call for help be ready to step up and provide. Don’t be a jerk and take advantage of people who are trying to help. Be honest. Be present. Be human. Be helpful.
Low touch. High touch.
I was at a public park last week for an event and I had to use the bathroom. I have become so accustomed to automatic flushing toilets, sinks that turn on with the wave of a hand, and towel dispensers that respond to movement that I was caught off guard when I had to touch the toilet to flush, turn on water with a handle, and pull the towel out of the dispenser. I actually had to touch something, many things, to take care of business as it were. Weird, right? It’s not as if I have any of those automatic gadgets at home – everything at home is self-serve. Yet in public places it has become much less common to actually touch anything.
This got me thinking about other ways in which we “touch” less. Like the “virtual hug” I might send a friend via text. Or the “high five” I might offer over the phone to a colleague. Or the email that congratulates someone for a big life event with the words “congratulations (hug)”. No touch. Low touch.
Now what about the actual hug I offer my neighbor when she tells me her kitchen sink backed up all over her kitchen and she has a pile of dishes three feet high? Or the high five I give an acquaintance when he mentions he is buying his first home? How about holding a child’s hand when he is scared? High touch.
So I know a public bathroom is an odd way to try to illustrate this. (And I know that not touching the flushing mechanism on toilets or handles on sinks or towel dispensers ultimately helps reduce the spread of germs.) But I also know that there are a lot of other ways we are losing touch, not just in bathrooms. We are losing the hugs and the high fives and the physical connection with friends, loved ones and neighbors. And while I think it is great to have low touch bathroom environments I think it is equally important to have high touch relationships with people in our lives.
So if I were my own best friend I would remind myself to reach out to those I care about and offer hugs, hands, and connection. Remember that touch is one of the senses and it should not be used for touch screen devices only. It should be used for fuzzy blankets and puppies and holding hands of loved ones. Please go hug someone you love!