Saturday, April 13, 2013

How to Find Happiness A-Z: L

Listen.

What do you hear? I hear a little boy chanting, the scrape of a chair, the hum of a refrigerator, the click of a microwave...

The world around us is filled with confusion and noise. It's hard to tune out the sounds, voices, and electronic devices long enough to even ponder what's going on inside ourselves; but for true happiness, this is an essential element.

Picture courtesy of aresauburn
One of the things that brought me the most happiness as a teen was going out to the yard, sitting on my thinking rock, and watching a sunset or starry night sky. Just listening to and observing nature calmed my heart and gave me the perspective to deal with the crazy crazy of each school day, relationship issues, and the stresses of finding my place. Listening, or not listening to all the other insistent voices out there helped me find my center.

True happiness also stems out of the relationships we build. Do you have a friend who loves to call you, but all they ever talk about is themselves? How deep is that friendship? Do you eventually tire of that person? My advice is, don't be that person. Listening, truly listening to others requires a certain amount of investment. It means we have to care about the person in order to care about what is said. It means we have to be willing to tune out all the other noises and focus. Now I admit, when my six year old tells me the exact same thing for the fiftieth time, it's difficult to want to pay attention, but the most profound things come out of that kid's mouth. Caring about others adds a deeper dimension to ourselves. Deeper satisfaction comes from seeking others' happiness before our own. That's why parenthood is such a noble/maturing/humbling/satisfying thing.

My husband's first boss in NYC was an "art-EE-st"! The guy carried so much ego you couldn't come within twenty feet of him without being knocked off your feet. He also couldn't keep employees to save his life. Wonder why. *shaking head* He was so concerned about being right and perfection that he never paused to consider people had "feelings". Everyone quit within a week, and he blamed it on them--thinking they were all just lemons. (My hubby made it 6 months, by the way--poor guy.)

I call that an extreme case of self-preoccupation.

My neighbor in NYC was the reverse. She immediately came over to meet us when we moved in. She sincerely asked about our lives every time we saw each other, and I knew I could call on her if needed--which, it was. As my husband and I climbed into the car to go to the hospital, me eight months pregnant and extremely sick, we had no idea what we'd do with our two young children. She came running down her steps and invited the kids to stay with her family as long as we needed. She was "listening", or paying attention, and to this day my heart swells with love and gratitude when I think of her. Talk about a true friend.

Self reflection: So which are you more like? The ego-driven genius, or the invested neighbor? (Please do not answer these questions in the comments.)

Do you have a "thinking rock", or quiet place to ponder? And what is it that really draws you to people? 

34 comments:

  1. This is a great post! Truly. I would like to think I am a great listener, mainly because I'm so uncomfortable talking about myself that I tend to focus more on others. My best "thinking spot"...is in the hot tub at our health club. :)

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    1. I'm going to agree--from what I've observed, I do think you're a great listener. =) I need to be more like you.

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  2. My thinking spot is when I'm falling asleep at night. Nothing but peace and quiet.

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    1. That works too--except if I let my mind go then, I never sleep. I lay there pondering for hours. Ah insomnia, how I love thee!

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  3. We live on a farm and my family treasures the warm clear nights where the sky is nothing but a road map of stars. If only winter would finally turn to spring in Wisconsin we could enjoy it again!
    erica

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    1. Hey, you're welcome in Florida any time. But seriously--I find the glittering snow at night just as inspiring as the stars. =)

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  4. This is good food for thought, Crystal. I know it's not that simple, but the world sometimes seems to be made up of givers and takers. Having a place to think is also a good thing in today's fast world. I know I don't spend enough time simply appreciating the things in nature.

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    1. It's something past generations really benefited from, eh? Sometimes I think we need to get back to their simplicity.

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  5. I like to wander through the farmers fields on a little walk through the 'Lambley Dumbles' It totally chills me out and lets me breathe.

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    1. I know what you mean. Nothing so freeing as just being able to wander and relax.

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  6. this is a great theme for the A to Z challenge!

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  7. Great post! It often takes more effort to listen than to talk ... thanks for visiting my Blog! Looking forward to seeing more of yours. http://wearethescatterlings.blogspot.com

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  8. i like your word today---sometimes the most important and the hardest thing we can do, is to simply really listen :)

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  9. Hey :) Thank you for your comment on my site.

    I love your blog! You are a really lovely writer. Last year I had a very tough time. I was living abroad and having some really difficult relationship problems. There was one girl who would just sit on my bed with me and listen to me talk, rubbing my knee and letting me speak. Sometimes she'd just sit there while I cried, just sitting in silence. I've never met anyone who was such a good listener, who didn't give opinions when I was trying to speak and who allowed me to really release all of my emotion. I think good listeners are gold!

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    1. Thanks, Nikki!

      I completely agree. A good listener is worth more than gold. I've had several good friends who had to listen to me rant, and I count each of them as amazing blessings.

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  10. Conversations are meaningless if one party isn't listening. It's better to talk to a brick wall becasue then you at least get your feelings out! I'm so glad I can go to my husband and talk out my worries when I have them. Nothing soothes the soul quite like a listening ear :)

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    1. Amen! Hubby 1st. My 12 yr old is my second go-to. It's amazing how well a tween can listen.

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  11. Great post. We had a discussion about this in my study group this afternoon. Thanks for visiting Buttercup's. You're my featured blogger of the day and it's about a Broadway musical!

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  12. What a thoughtful and caring post. I live in the mountains and I have a place where I can sit and watch the sun rise of the eastern mountain ranges. It centers me for the rest of the day.

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    1. I miss my mountains. They make for such a beautiful horizon.

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  13. Hello, Crystal! How wonderful that you have a neighbor you can count on, and I'm sure she has someone she can count on in you. That's the way to be truly neighborly!

    I can't wait to have a house with a backyard. I don't know if I'll have a thinking rock, but hopefully have a thinking tree like I had at my childhood home!

    Happy A to Z-ing! from Laura Marcella @ Wavy Lines

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    1. Ooh! A thinking tree? That sound awesome.

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  14. I live near the beach so my best spot is at the shoreline.
    Beautiful thoughtful post.
    Peanut Butter and Whine

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    1. Oh, I love the beach! We used to live 3 blocks from it, and there was nothing so peaceful as the shoreline at night.

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  15. One of the things I love best about Ornery is that he really listens to me. He stops whatever he is doing and looks at me, fully paying close attention to what I say. He doesn't always remember every detail, but more times than not he does, and that is such a special thing to know you have someone who will truly listen to what you have to say. Lovely L word!
    tm

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    1. That's the best! What a blessing to have a great listener.

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  16. My parents home is my abode of peace and my thinking rock where I sit watch sunrise and sunset from a window with perfect view and think and try sorting out things !
    LOVED UR post. AM like neither the boss nor the neighbor coz I dont easily mingle with people but If I come across them and know their problem I Wont hesitate to help.
    It depends on who the receiver is
    Nevertheless loved this post

    Hugs !

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    1. A window view, eh? That definitely works. =)

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  17. What a great introspective post. I think we all want to say we are the greatest friend on earth, and it is good to actually give it a good think. I don't have a quiet place, not being my house, and it makes me sad. When I really need to get away, though, I have always gone out into nature. The mountains if I can make it, if not, just a field. Somewhere without the distractions of everyone and everything. Meditation is a very under-estimated and important thing, I think.

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    1. Amy, sometimes my quiet place is the bathroom, while the kids are busy watching a movie. There's no shame in that. ;)

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