National Day of Listening

When someone says, "Listening is an act of love," my ears perk up. I have long believed listening is one of the most under-appreciated aspects of a loving relationship. Listening is usually overlooked in favor of doing something for the other person. But think about it. When we feel we are not being listened to, we lose all motivation to be around someone. When we are upset or even when we are just sharing our day with someone, we feel valued when they listen. When we listen to someone, we are investing our energy in them. We are humbling ourselves before them. When we really listen -- when we allow their words, perspective, and feelings to affect us -- then we have formed the basis for acting with true compassion toward that person. Listening is indeed an act of love.

Today I found out that the day after Thanksgiving is the National Day of Listening. The holiday was founded in 2008 by StoryCorps, an organization promoting listening and the sharing of stories. "Listening is an act of love" is their slogan. They have a system for recording and sharing the stories of people we love, which you can learn about here.

Whether you record and share someone's story, I want to join with StoryCorps in recommending the day after Thanksgiving not so much as a day of shopping but as a day of listening. Not the only day, I hope, but maybe a day to pay special attention to listening. StoryCorps provides all sorts of help with the project. Here is a list of great questions to ask someone:

  • What was the happiest moment of your life?
  • What are you most proud of?
  • What are the most important lessons you've learned in life?
  • What is your earliest memory?
  • How would you like to be remembered?
No matter what questions you ask, listen well.

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