July 9th, 2012
I haven’t known exactly what I wanted to write this week, mostly because so much has happened since Wednesday, when I got to Portland for the World Domination Summit. A “business” conference put on by Chris Guillebeau, who asks the question “How do we live a remarkable life, in a conventional world?”
As you know, I like to find life lessons in everyday situations. The too small boots, or the gum chewing yoga instructor, or the inability to find my one missing sock, until of course, that moment when I stop looking and it magically appears.
And although I found a ton of amazing value in the messages of the speakers, and the people I met here, I naturally, found the most value in one particular instance that had nothing to do with the conference at all.
It was Sunday morning. The last day of this conference and Chris Brogan takes the stage. A jovial 40 something, self-proclaimed comic book geek, and writer. He starts his speech talking about super heroes, and their powers (thus ultimately relating it to each of us, and our own unique super powers kinda thing). Well, as soon as the room got quiet and Chris started talking, the girl behind us automatically became a self-proclaimed commentator on the entire speech.
The chatter became so distracting for me that I was having a hard time concentrating on the speech, and instead I was having an easier time being mad at her, and annoyed, and frustrated. A couple times I looked back, hoping to send the message that her talking wasn’t appreciated. A couple other people in my row had the same idea, but all three of us failed at our intentions. The talking continued.
Now…if you read my post last week you might think that I’m totally neurotic my next move would have been to say something to her. But this time, I knew there was a different lesson to learn.
Being an introspective person, nothing can be taken at face value. An annoying situation can’t just be an annoying situation. An annoying situation becomes a lesson. An entry point for some self-awareness. So I was rolling around possibilities in my mind. What is there for me to learn here? I thought. And two things came to mind.
The first…simple. The amount of annoyance I experienced was directly related to the amount of focus I placed on the situation. Done. Don’t focus as much on the behavior/person = be less annoyed.
But the second one took a little more effort. I imagined what it must like to be this girl. Why she might feel the need to share so much. What her purpose for speaking loudly was.
I imagined that maybe she really wanted to experience connection in the sharing of her stories. Perhaps she wanted to be seen. Maybe she was craving some acknowledgement or maybe she was hurting and she wanted someone to appreciate her quirks. Maybe she was looking for fellow comic book lovers. Or perhaps she wanted to entertain the people around her. Or maybe, she had no motivation and just had a different way of approaching speeches than me.
No matter what her motivations were, putting myself in her imaginary shoes shifted things for me. It was still distracting for me, but not nearly as much, and eventually, it went away. Instead, I imagined myself loving her.
And I realized…that this is compassion.
The ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, and approach them differently because of it.
And that’s what happened. As soon as I shifted, the situation shifted. My energy shifted towards her. I saw something beautiful in her that I wasn’t able to see before. And I don’t know if she continued to talk, but if she did, I didn’t hear it.
So the question still remains…how do you live a remarkable life in a conventional world? And in these moments, I decided that one way is to look inward. To ask yourself, “in what ways can I change in order to make this situation better?” To take life in, in a holistic way and be curious, explore, wonder what it all means, strive to be better and do better. And ultimately be compassionate. Tina Turner once asked “What’s love got to do with it?” And the answer is EVERYTHING. Love and compassion has everything to do with everything. We aren’t perfect beings, but we can try to be better. We can try to approach everyone with love and compassion even especially when we don’t want to. Change starts here.
I learned a lot at this conference. But I think I learned the most important thing I could have learned here. Compassion feels good. Compassion shifts energy. Compassion creates change.
Try it. And see what happens.
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Have you ever had an experience like this? What did you do? Where in your life can you approach something differently, in hopes for a new outcome? Share in the comments below and share with your peeps that might appreciate this message.