Tag Archives: relationships

The art of listening

It is better to be a friend than to have one

Have you ever had one of those moments when you stumble across a quote or saying and it speaks to you, like it was meant for you at that exact point in time? Well, I had one of those moments the other week while reading a letter from a friend and seeing this quote, “it is better to be a friend than to have one”.

Friendship is one of life’s greatest blessings. Someone who is there in good and bad times, can make you laugh, cares about you, challenges you to become a better person, and listens whether you need advice or just want to talk.

But that last point is so often forgotten. Listening has become such a rare thing in a world full of people who only want to voice their opinions but don’t have time or care about opinions of those around them whether it’s in everyday conversations or on social media. More than often, we listen to reply, we don’t listen to understand. And by doing this, whether purposefully or not, we are creating an attitude of ignorance.

Growing up, I remember hearing about schools that would hand out awards for “talks the least, says the most”. That seemed like such a great award, something to strive toward in life. There is nothing wrong with talking, expressing yourself or voicing your opinions but communication is a two-way street. I truly believe there are times to talk and times to just be silent and listen.  By listening to those around us, we are showing respect, that we appreciate them, and are able to better understand their perspective.

The other week, I was asked to speak during the opening ceremony at a local Relay for Life event. It is always an incredible experience and slightly nerve-wrecking to share my story with others. It is truly humbling and makes me so happy to know that my story can help and inspire others.  As ridiculous as it sounds, in those moments I feel tickled pink. But what I love most about sharing my story with others is getting their response and hearing from them. I truly enjoy getting to know them better and learning about who they are. At the Relay for Life, it was overwhelming to see how cancer has affected so many people. To listen to a patient, survivor, or caregiver tell their story is to help them heal which is something I understand from personal experience. It is moments like that where it is more important to be a friend and to just listen.

 

A wise old owl lived in an oak,
The more he saw the less he spoke
The less he spoke the more he heard.
Why can’t we all be like that wise old bird?

– unknown author

 

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Shouldn’t the end come first?

Many people die with their music still in them. Why is this so? Too often it is because they are always getting ready to live. Before they know it, time runs out.

~Oliver Wendell Holmes

As I mentioned in another post, one of my resolutions for this year is to read more, to learn more, and to broaden my worldview. Books, articles, blogs, whatever I can get my hands on. Recently, I read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. This book truly challenged my way of thinking and caused me to examine myself. It is a book I will go back to throughout my life and read over and over. This book is filled with so many great insights on how to approach various situations in life and how to constantly improve yourself.

As the title obviously states, the author describes the 7 habits to becoming more effective, whether in your work environment, with family and friends, and in life. Although each habit really spoke to me, the second habit really stood out to me,  Begin with the end in mind. In describing what he meant, the author asked the reader to imagine being at a funeral-their own funeral. He continued to ask who would be there, what would they say about you, etc. Then he asked if the answers to those questions would align with what your hopes would be. In other words, would the people you hope to be at your funeral be there? What would they say about you? Is it what you would want them to say? Or remember you as?

Although I think most people would say positive things about me, I’m not quite sure about my immediate family. They see sides of me most people don’t, my negative side, my impatient side, my moody side, and my favorite, my “just don’t bother me or speak to me” side. (my brothers use to add an adjective before Beth, it was their special name for me-no, it wasn’t beautiful)

I can only imagine what my stepdad would say, probably she’s a nag, bossy, and, impatient. “Always complaining about something whether I don’t do the dishes, if I track mud through the house, or if I chew too loudly.” After thinking about this, I realized I need to try to be more patient with him, understanding, and communicate my ideas better instead of nagging.

The same goes for my brother who is two years older than me. We have never really gotten along, always arguing about something, constantly fighting, or nitpicking at each other’s flaws. The things he would say about me  I’m sure wouldn’t be pleasant. But when I think about it, I am pretty awful sometimes and need to work on being a better sister instead of placing all the blame on him.

There’s a popular song by Tim McGraw about living like you’re dying that discusses what’s like to live each day knowing it might be your last. Although we all don’t really dwell on the thought of dying someday, it will happen. How do you want to be remembered?  When you imagine your funeral, who do you hope will be there? What do you think they will say? Is it what you hope they would say? And if not, maybe it’s time to re-evaluate.

And I loved deeper
And I spoke sweeter
And I gave forgiveness I’d been denying”
And he said
“Someday I hope you get the chance
To live like you were dying”

-Tim McGraw

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It’s the little things

“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched – they must be felt with the heart.”

-Helen Keller

As the Christmas season comes into full swing, people are rushing around searching for the perfect gifts, finding the perfect tree, and the perfect  everything; stress and anxiety are at an all  time high. Worrying about who to buy for or what they want. Better make sure to get that nice party platter. What do I wear to that Christmas party? Hopefully I can afford that. Aren’t the holidays about being joyous and relaxing?! Instead it’s about making sure everything is perfect and worrying about what you don’t have.

The other day I spoke at a business luncheon. I enjoy every opportunity I have to share my story with others, to watch their reactions, and to hear that I inspired them in someway or gave them a different perspective. But what is really cool though is how in return it helps me too; I am inspired by them.  The responses, reactions, and personal stories are so touching and moving. I lift them up through telling my life story but they lift me up too and, at least for me, that is one of the greatest gifts I can receive.

It made me think that really the best things in life are not things; they’re relationships or how people make you feel. And I’m not just talking about romantic feelings but those who give you confidence, encourage you to keep trying or challenge you to become a better person.  It’s said over and over, especially this time of year, but it’s true; the best things in life are not presents, decorations, or fancy cookies (although they’re all nice) ;  it’s about helping those around us, giving your time to others, and offering a smile every now and then.

 So before you start panicking  about whether you have enough food for your holiday party, whether the bows match the wrapping paper, or if they’ll like the present you got them. Stop, take a breath, and remember Christmas and life in general are not about the material things but about relationships with others, how they make you feel, about moments, and creating memories.

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