Goal: Connecting with other people.
Setting: Almost any time you are with people you do not know well.
Practice(1): Sharing a Moment. Often we share a smile, spark of enthusiasm, good feelings -- either with someone we know, or with a stranger. Observe this dynamic as it happens around you. Do not make any great effort to change what's happening, at least not at first.
Today there are increasing taboos around sharing enthusiasm, especially with strangers, as people may suspect sexual or other hidden motives. But there are accessories or situations -- from a cute dog, to a shared emergency -- which can serve as icebreakers, temporarily relaxing the taboos.
Later, one can develop skills in this area, learning how to use the icebreakers to share pleasant moments more often, with strangers, acquaintances, or friends.
Practice(2): Sharing a Destiny. We live in an age of overload -- which may explain some of the loneliness and isolation within crowds of people, even though intimacy-building exercises like the one above are fairly easy. People can starve for intimacy because they need to reject it, since too much non-nourishing human contact is thrown at them.
So along with practices for building connections and relationships, we also need practices for prioritizing what relationships and what community we want.
A way to begin is to notice what long-term work, goals, or destinies we share with someone. A place to start is simply to consider this question, as we interact with people throughout the day.
[Return to home page]