“Strangers are just family you have yet to come to know. No life is a waste. The only time we waste is the time we spend thinking we are alone.”
– Mitch Albom (“The five people you meet in heaven.”)
1) The Very Success-Defining Skill
There are many things that we learn early on but think insignificant and omit in the process of our upbringing. One of them is the very success-defining skill – empathetic listening. That skill involves all our senses: ears, eyes, posture, mimics. It is vital to learn to listen using all of them, and not just to “listen” without even capturing the meaning as we think at this very moment about what we are going to say next. Most of us do that. Pay attention next time and you’ll see the living proof.
Read more: How to Free Yourself From the Restraint of Everyday Monotony: 5 Ways to Be Mentally Engaged and Never Repentant
2) We Need to Listen Twice as Much as We Talk
We have two ears and one mouth. Isn’t it a sign to be more attentive when someone is sharing information with us? But here again we need to rein in our egos. We think that no one can give us anything valuable, which is such a big mistake. Every person in our lives comes with a definite purpose and you just miss it when you do not pin your ears back and give yourself in full to this moment of shared wisdom.
Read more: Worry & Anxiety – the Instruments of Our Own Destruction: 6 Ways to Push Them out of Your Life
3) The Art of Asking Questions
Imagine a foreign language course in your curriculum. And you decided to skip a lesson or two. How hard is it to stay at the same level of knowledge as your more responsible classmates? You feel you need to put so much extra work in now to acquire the same speed they learn with. Of course, in a classroom environment it is easier to grasp the meaning of some rule that is difficult to understand, as there is always someone who will ask the right question that will cause you to understand the teacher’s explanation. The same thing in life: you may miss that particular opportunity to listen, think, and ask the right question and the life you want to live becomes a few steps farther from your reach. We need to master the art of asking questions. And to do that we need to listen and think. And, of course, to have the end result in mind (I mean “why I need to listen” and “what I need to learn”).
Read more in my book
The vital ability to think requires some training and a lot of practice time. You go to the gym to make your body fit and strong, and in the same way you need to train your brain to think consciously on subjects of everyday life. I know it is insane to force your mind to think: “take a toothbrush in your right hand and brush the upper left side…” and so on. Our subconscious mind keeps us sane by relieving us of the necessity of tracking every routine movement. But simply by trying to use your left hand more if you are right-handed and vice-versa makes a world of a difference. Small steps like that create a habit of using our thinking muscles more frequently and making them all-weather resistant. Every achievement starts with the unremarkable little steps that we take every day in the direction of our ultimate goal.