Most of the time I think it’s fairly easy to check in and quickly determine how I’m feeling, like happy or sad, up or down, energetic or lazy, or just copasetic. I could also be more textured and say I feel really good today with a little sadness underneath, together with mild stress. Or I could say I’m pissed off, but I’m grateful at the same time. After all I might be pissed at the moment, but my life is really good, so what do I have to complain about really?
I have a certain teenager, who shall remain nameless for the purpose of this public forum, whose standard answer to the question of how he/she feels is, “I don’t know.” This is to be expected in a modern society in which emotional development is most often trumped by the myriad forms of sensory input readily available at our fingertips and serving to distract us from what we’re feeling deep within.
When we greet people in an elevator, down the hallway or across the street and we ask, “How are you?” There is an expectation that they will answer good or well, and in return they will ask how we’re doing. But, do we truly care how they are doing? Do they truly care how we feel when they ask us how we’re doing? Blurting out the typical responses would seem to suggest that we don’t care too much, that we’re just exercising an expected social behavior of cordiality.
I think the reason for this is because we’re not used to expressing our true emotions to the people we know. If upon emerging from my home on a beautiful sun shinny morning my neighbor says good morning and asks how I’m doing and I say, “I’m kind of pissed off this morning, but yes, it’s a beautiful morning.” I think my neighbor would not likely know how to respond to that.
Language becomes like a habit in that we are expected to ask people how they are doing and that they will ask us how we’re doing, and in doing so we fall into a habit of not being honest with our emotions. We say we’re good even when we’re not, and we ask them how they’re doing when we don’t really want to know the truth of what they’re going through. Sharing real emotions with others requires us to be more fully present and in the moment. It also requires us to muster our compassion for people we may not know very well. And, it requires us to set ourselves aside for the moment and empathize.
In my Navajo teachings I have learned just a few things about their language. I say just a few things, as their language is very complex. They speak in metaphors and stories. It takes many more Navajo words to say things than in English. They can talk for hours to convey a few simple meanings. But, they don’t go around asking people off the bat how they are. Their greeting is a simple, “Yateh” or hello. They don’t have a word for good-bye as they don’t believe in good-bye’s. They simply say, “Hagoneh.” Which essentially means, ‘see you later.’
In the Navajo way, they connect with each other by the sharing of story and time. They listen intently and do not interrupt. The purpose is less about what a person says, and more about the interplay, the intermingling of stories and energies. It’s like through the course of their melodic transference of energy they are saying, “I care about you and enjoy spending time with you.”
What if instead of saying, “Hello, good morning, how are you today.” We said, “Hello, good morning, it’s good to see you.” Instead of asking for a polite and maybe not so honest answer to my question, I’m merely showing that I care about this person and am genuinely happy to see them? They then have the choice to tell me what’s going on with them with honesty, or keep it to themselves.
Tip of the Week
(Thank you to friend Keith Vallely for suggesting the addition of a tip of the week.)
Time spent in nature helps us to develop our intuition, but only if we meet nature on nature’s terms, meaning that we leave the electronics behind and meld with the pace of nature.