Dear Readers,

This week I thought I’d share some thoughts on a technique that truly changed my life and helped me become a better person. This post is inspired by a movie I watched recently called “Wonder.” In the film, Owen Wilson and Julia Robert’s play the loving parents of two children; Olivia, who enters Grade ten, and Auggie, who begins Grade five.

They are a totally average family, except Auggie has had multiple face surgeries that have left him permanently disfigured. On the first day of school, hardly anyone talks to Auggie, and all the students refuse to stand near him. It doesn’t matter what Auggie’s facial expressions are, and for the first few weeks it doesn’t matter what he says or does, because he is different and that’s all the other kids see. Auggie literally cannot blend in, and stands out in what feels like the worst way.

At first, it looks like Auggie has it worse than anyone around him, and in a way, he does. As the film progresses, though, we switch point of view to all the other characters and people in Auggie’s life. We see their struggles, their triumphs, the battles they fight privately. Auggie’s issues may be more obvious, but everyone in his life is struggling with something

The truth is, you can never know what someone else is going through. For Auggie to understand the struggles of the people around him, he had to stop thinking about his own. He had to listen to other people to truly understand what they were going through. 



Listening (v.) take notice and act on what someone says; respond. 

It took me a long time to learn that listening is not waiting for the other person to finish speaking so that you can speak. Listening is not interjecting. Listening is not mindless, it’s active. 

Nod, and engage to show the person speaking that you care. Are you mirroring them? Are you tilting your head, and“mhmm-ing” when they pause? Not in an absent way, like when you murmur on the phone with your parents while scrolling through Instagram. Can you making eye contact with them?

I used to be a terrible listener. I’m good at starting conversations with just about anyone, but I had no idea I was a terrible participant in those conversations. I was always too distracted with other thoughts to be present and pay attention. I’m a bit absent-minded as it is, but I’ve learned that’s no excuse for being a poor listener. In the past few years, I’ve worked consciously to correct this behaviour and make listening a habit. 



I think listening is the key to form deep connections with people. If you don’t listen to what someone says, and if you’re not engaged with them, how can you truly connect to them?

I see tons of posts and articles about people who are lonely in the digital age. It’s hard to form deep and meaningful connections when everyone’s glued to their phone screens. Take advantage of those in-between moments when there’s an actual human in front of you who wants to talk. You don’t have to be a super outgoing person to do this. More often than not, just showing them you care about what they have to say does more for a relationship than mere words can express. 

Like Auggie, I used to think my problem’s were worse than anyone else’s around me. Sure, I have my own battles, but I’ve learned that everyone else does too. 

I think of Auggie, who had no choice other than to be himself for the world to see. The movie is based on a true story, so if a boy in fifth grade can do it, you’d think all of us “adults” could too. Everyone (and I truly believe this) is just doing the best they can to get by with what they know. No one’s perfect, far from it, but if you listen to other people, you will be amazed what you learn. Listening quiets your own mind, forces you to be present, and it’s making stepping into someone else shoes feel natural. If you’re truly listening to someone, you will want to understand and empathize with where they’re coming from. Listen, and connection will follow

Thanks for reading!