To feel enlivened, to give spirit, make cheerful, feel invigorated, how does that happen?  The word enlivened came to mind after attending an unexpected dinner party in a new setting with new people. Afterwards, driving home, trying to identify the feeling, enlivened was the word that cropped up and clearly was the perfect fit.

Enlivened. Enliven. What invigorates us? Generally we think of things like taking a hot shower or going on good run to invigorate ourselves. Yet enliven can mean something slightly different or does it just depend on what enlivens each of us? Maybe how we interpret a social event can create an inner response or inner connection that raises some peoples’ sense of well being the same way a good run might? Can we be enlivened by something intangible like the energy in a room of people, and the experience?

Maybe the unexpected nature of attending the party and then leaving with this vivacity brought to the fore a word and feeling that had been absent for a while. And because of its’ surprise appearance, it is a reminder feeling enlivened must be a beautiful ingredient to aging deliciously.

Observing rather than Evaluating

The Indian philosopher J. Krishnamurti once remarked that observing without evaluating is the highest form of human intelligence.

It does seem difficult in our western culture not to voice our evaluation or judgment. We might claim someone has a big mouth, when what we observe is he tells long stories that extend meeting times and make people late . Being a big mouth is an evaluation. It helps when we can observe and describe that observation as part of our communication, especially if we are hoping for some change. When we judge, we add on our own prism and evaluation. Often that weight makes it hard for anyone to really hear what we have to say.  Plus when we label something, whether we evaluate it as positive or not positive,  it can be limiting to effective communication. Is our evaluation right? Wrong? Who decides? With an evaluation approach we are likely to get a defensive, offensive or passive/aggressive response.

If we share what we observe rather than only our personal assessment or evaluation we have a much better opportunity that something positive would come from the exchange.  To give someone our evaluation only, such as “You are too needy” rather than including our observation of “When you call me 5 times a day, I think you are too needy”  provides a different kind of communication. And helps us too, when we feel clearer as to why we evaluated someone this way.

There are many steps in compassionate communication that starts with observing without evaluating. For many of us, getting clear on these distinctions when we speak might help calm down our own monkey mind, allow more relaxation in our bodies and provide better reception from those we communicate.

What is Knowledge?

What is knowledge? Lately opinion seems rampant, with few verified facts or even time to digest the information before it is publicly circulated. How can a meaningful decision or solution be found if we expect someone to respond immediately into a microphone to newly heard opinions? Do we confuse the person who responds forcefully and immediately with someone who has something of value and thoughtfulness to share? How could someone have much of value to share without time enough to gather additional information, other points of view and review it? Knowledge does grow and emerge out of information, experience, perspective and the openness to those who think and perceive differently.

Why are we sometimes threatened by those who think or believe differently? Wouldn’t their knowledge help round out our own in some fashion? Even if we don’t change our minds, understanding their point of view could help expand our knowledge base and maybe another time, would come in handy.

There is a beauty to contemplation and time to consider evolving information or facts. Do we imagine people are slow if they take time to consider a variety of consequences and outcomes before choosing a course of action? Naturally emergencies require quick responses, but everything is not an emergency. Much is gained by taking time, sometimes “feeling”our way through a decision in order to better commit to a right set of actions. And that takes time. Sometimes those who take longer to choose a course of action are actually considering more information and consequences, essentially being more thorough than those making a quicker decision. There are many decisions we as citizens, employees or community members are paying for because those that made decisions on our behalf didn’t make good ones. What knowledge base do we require of our decision makers?

Financially we pay penalties, fees and interests as consequences for some courses of actions, like rebooking fees because maybe we hadn’t thought through our travel plans well enough. There are costs and benefits to thinking things through, and using our knowledge well. Ideally we learn through our mistakes, for those of us who believe personal accountability and understanding matter.

Certainly opinions need be owned by the one offering the opinion, yet many opinions just seem like noise in an already noisy world. An opinion seems easy to offer with little productive value, like being a critic. But maybe an opinion offered with empathy, then that opinion would be based on far more than one’s own immediate reaction, ego or habit…that opinion could contain consideration and care that did help move the conversation in a productive way.