If you ask people, what is the most significant sources of meaning in their lives, they will say the close relationships they have with friends, family, children and their partners. But, in Emily Esfahani Smith's new book "The Power of Meaning," she discovers that it is also the small, seemingly benign interactions with people, like a barista, a neighbour, a person walking their dog down the street, she calls "micro-connections," are also sources of meaning we can all tap into to lead richer lives.
There are two pillars that need to be in place in order to have a meaningful connectionn with someone: the first of the pillars is to have a feeling of belonging. When other people think you matter and treat you like you matter, you believe you matter, too.
The second, is to have frequent pleasant interactions with other people. Those moments can be joyful and fun, like when a parent laughs with a child, or a couple holds hands in a movie theatre. But the key is that they happen on a regular basis and are not negative.
There are ways to foster such interactions and build belonging. Responding to bids your partner makes is one of them. For example: a woman is reading an article and laughs or comments. At this moment, she is making a bid for her partner’s attention and hoping that she will get some acknowledgement. Here the partner has a choice: to ignore or to engage. If he or she chooses to engage, with a smile or even a "tell me more about that," this would create a moment of belonging that both of them could share.
We can’t control whether someone will respond to our bids, but we can decide to respond kindly, rather than antagonistically, to one another. We can choose to value people rather than devalue them. We can invite people to belong. And when we do, our own lives feel more meaningful and our relationships will be better, too
Please join me February 8th for my next group workshop. Go to:
www.bringingbabyhometoronto.com to register now!