The feeling that those around us are busy is common to many people. Today’s life has a frenetic pace and the days disappear from the calendar at great speed. It is difficult for most of us to stop, put aside our duties and occupations for a moment and think about others. Sometimes, a simple How are you? it can become the gateway to intimacy with the people we love.
Often, however, we are so focused on ourselves, on work, on studies or on our projects that we completely lose our bearings. When someone looks us in the eye and sincerely asks us how we are, we feel a feeling of joy that comes from feeling recognized, important, relevant, deserving.
If we stop to think about this reality, we will realize that other areas of life are much more superficial and that the reinforcement they can provide us is much more fleeting. Conversely, social support is deep and highly rewarding. Without it, it is difficult, for example, to have good self-esteem.
The value of a How are you?
The value of asking someone How are you? in a transparent and frank way it settles in words, but does not reside in them. Their importance derives from the interest they reveal. Noticing that another person is interested in us fuels our self-esteem. It is an intrinsic mechanism of the human being.
Millions of years ago, had we not been accepted by the tribe, we would have had a good chance of being marginalized and not surviving in an environment teeming with beasts and adversity. However, by collaborating with other specimens of our own species, we have ensured our survival.
On the other hand, it is not a purely two-way question. In other words, if I want to increase the likelihood that others will take an interest in me, ask me how I am and offer me their help when I need it, obviously I will have to do the same with them. But in a genuine way, and not for convenience while waiting for something in return.
This point is very important because it reflects sincere love for others. If that doesn’t happen, I will hardly see my expectations of how others should behave towards me met. If we want to receive love, we must first give it.
Steps to get genuine interest
Taking an interest in others and getting others interested in us is not an easy goal to achieve. As anticipated, sometimes the rhythms are so fast that it becomes very difficult to get away from your commitments to look around. Inertia invites us to stay focused, to keep our tunnel vision.
In this dynamic it is not uncommon to wake up one day and realize that the people who counted on us no longer do so. We conveyed to them the idea that our priorities were quite different.
To broaden our gaze, we can take a series of steps to show our genuine interest in others:
- Ask at least two people every day How are you? o How are you doing? . You can use it as an exercise to see if you are really capable of it. People tend to monopolize conversations by talking a lot about themselves: their job, their partner, their children. This spotlight on ourselves does not allow us to decentralize ourselves, to learn from others and to promote help if our interlocutor feels frustrated or unhappy.
- You think that taking care of others will make you happier. Many times we entrust happiness to trivial things. We think “I will be happy when I find my dream job”, “I will be happy when I pass the competition”, “I will be happy when I get married”. It is true that these events offer us a certain well-being and, probably, happiness. We all agree on this.
The problem is that as soon as we adapt to the new situation, a new “baseline” is created in us and we need more. It is an ephemeral well-being. On the contrary, establishing social relationships based on loyalty and truth will make us happy most of the time.
- The wheel turns. As you begin to show interest in others, your world will change. If everyone seemed to be going their own way before, you will notice that you get more texts, more calls, more visits and ultimately more attention. Reciprocity occurs. This union with others offers numerous benefits: it increases our self-esteem, our psychological well-being, helps us in our projects, we can learn and even strengthens our immune system.
- Forget about commitments for a moment. Sometimes focusing on other people brings relief. Thinking only about your own problems makes you exhausted. Try every now and then to escape from yourself and rest, embarking on the stories of others. It might be more interesting than you think.
Ask your foreign colleague why she decided to live in your city, ask your mother why she fell in love with your father or why she chose your name and not others. Sometimes other people’s stories can surprise you.
- Act. Start asking those around you today: How are you? And not only that: take action. Invite a family member you haven’t seen in a long time for coffee, encourage a worker you see tired, listen to a friend without interrupting him, smile at the neighbor in the elevator, and if you have a snack at work today, share it. You can approach others in several ways. And remember: like the boomerang effect, (almost) everything comes back.
Authentic interest in others often turns into a profound well-being towards oneself. Happiness comes largely from the support of our peers and it is therefore necessary to cultivate this attention.
A sincere look, a simple question and a feeling that, without words, is capable of saying “I’m here if you need me” can be more precious than any material asset. Decentralizing ourselves makes us free, human and, consequently, people immersed in relationships based on love and truth. Isn’t it worth a try?