Aware. Woman noticing nature.

Aware

When I get home from a social gathering, I am often asked a series of very specific questions. What decorations did they have? What was Tina wearing? What kind of cake did they have? My answer is usually, “I dunno…”.

It’s not that I don’t notice things; I just notice different things.

When you leave a place, how much do you remember about it? If someone asked you the color of the wall in your friend’s living room, would you know? Do you notice what people are wearing?

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Weather

When people talk about the weather, it’s often considered small talk. Something to talk about when you can’t think of anything else. When I talk about the weather, it’s because I’m excited about it. I enjoy talking about it. For many of us, weather is a significant part of our lives and our emotions.

People have different relationships to the weather. For some, the weather is directly related to their livelihoods; they pay attention to it religiously, but for purely practical reasons. They need rain for their crops to grow. They need calm weather to fish. For others, certain weather conditions are necessary for something they’re passionate about, and when they get those conditions, they love that weather because it gives them the opportunity to do what they love. Weather can bring back memories—memories of relationships, memories of experiences. For some, their relationship to the weather is purely emotional. Certain weather conditions create a direct emotional response.

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Listen. Friends having a conversation.

Listen

On its surface, listening is not that hard. Someone is speaking, we hear and comprehend the words, and we gain an understanding of what he or she is conveying.

It’s that third bit where people often falter.

To really understand what a person is saying, we need to consider the context, the person’s background or history, and any emotional subtext. Also, we have to observe. Is the person’s speech rushed? Are they animated? Are they louder or higher-pitched that usual? For some, all of these things come naturally, but others barely hear the words, never mind consider the subtleties.

In interacting with other people, it can often be difficult to ascertain their points of view, their motives, or their agenda (if they have one). However, with an awareness of certain aspects of that person’s physical and emotional responses, it is much easier to know where they’re coming from. When speaking with someone, it can be revealing to pay close attention to what they’re doing with their arms or hands, the way they’re breathing, and any changes in the color of their face or the intensity of their eyes. It is often the case that these attributes can communicate more than words.

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Borders. Chainlink fence breaking in to links and flying away to freedom

Borders

Our life is filled with borders—those lines, both tangible and symbolic, that delineate our lives. Some of these are real, while others are imagined. Some are immovable; others are flexible. Some are imposed upon us, while others are self-imposed. How we behave in relation to these borders can have a great impact on what kind of lives we lead and how successful we are in achieving our goals.

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Trust. Three rock climbers helping one from falling.

Trust

How many people in the world do you trust completely?

People you trust not to lie to you, cheat you, or steal from you—this is garden-variety trust.

How many people do you trust enough for you to share who you really are? How many people do you know in your heart have your back? How many people could you trust with your life?

Try to list those people.

For many of us, the number of people like that in our lives can be counted on one hand, and the truth is we are lucky if we have one or two. But before we start weeping silently into our oatmeal, let’s think about the dynamics of what it takes to be trustworthy.

Each of us has to trust ourselves first. If we don’t, we lack the fundamental basis for trust. We have to trust ourselves that we will act in our own best interest. We have to trust that we will create a life for ourselves that we can use as a foundation to do great things. We have to trust that we will give ourselves a stable emotional base.

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