Less Walls. More Bridges.

CHAPTER 33

BRIDGING THE GAP THAT DIVIDES US

When we watch the news, looking at the world around us, it seems like people forget about the things that they have in common, and instead, focus on the pieces that separate us. Much of the conflict in the world is caused by ignoring our commonalities, and instead, focusing on the differences between cultures, genders, and socioeconomic status.

Sometimes what we have in common gets forgotten or simply ignored. Of course, we’re all different. But isn’t it better to focus on our similarities while acknowledging our differences?

What do we all have in common? Well, as simple as this may seem – we’re ALL human. We may look or talk different, live in different countries, dress differently and celebrate different activities but strip all that away and we’re human.

When it comes to recognizing our interconnections, we don’t have to get all mushy and sing kumbaya but we can choose to get along better with one another and see the oneness that exists in each of us.

Let’s focus on the commonalities and interconnections we all share.

Here are some suggestions:

  • Say something nice to a stranger. It doesn’t have to be complicated, just a simple, “I like your shoes” will suffice. A compliment is a great way to start a conversation and just to acknowledge someone else’s presence.
  • Hold the door open for someone–your friend, spouse, or a stranger. I guarantee this will be appreciated by old and young alike.
  • Smile at everyone. A smile is one of the most delightful infections to spread. Everyone responds well to a smile–and you may just meet your new friend.
  • Pay it forward. At the toll booth, coffee shop, store, or anywhere else, offer to pay a small amount for the person behind you. There is nothing more pleasing to find out your order has been paid for.

So you’ve been nice, smiled, and generally greeted everyone with your heart on your sleeve and a twinkle in your eye. What a wonderful first step! But can we do more?

Of course the answer is yes. Sometimes the way we approach a situation will greatly affect, if not outright determine, the outcome. Such an attitude shift can be difficult, especially when we’re stressed or uncomfortable. These occasions are the ones we might attempt a more congenial approach to each other. Having compassion for each other, even in times of tension and difficulty, is the key to a peaceful co-existence.

Think of small ways that you can choose to shift or change your attitude.

One way of thinking about the similarities among us is to imagine what others might be missing.

If your boss is having a bad day, maybe a simple smiley face on a sticky note will cheer her up. She doesn’t need to know who gave it to her, and she may just throw it out, but you will have done something to make a difference.

The commonalities we share are much stronger than our differences.

British Member of Parliament Jo Cox said during her maiden speech in Parliament: “We are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us.”

Nobody wants to have a bad day, nobody wants to be ill, nobody wants to feel lonely. Yet so often we’re all so busy in our own little worlds to notice someone else’s needs. I guarantee that by looking beyond yourself, just a little, that you will recognize how we all are interconnected.

Ah, but the devil’s advocate in you is asking, What about the times when I don’t agree with someone’s opinion? Well, that’s a very important question. So let’s look at some ways to agree to disagree. Here are some ideas:

  • Stop the argument. Sometimes the other person just simply wants to argue for the sake of the activity. Simply disengage and find a way to leave the setting or shift the conversation.
  • Smile at the other person during his or her rant and just take some deep breaths. This too shall pass. An angry individual just wants to let off steam, so let them.
  • Kindly acknowledge their opinion while also calmly stating your own. Give examples and facts along the way. Focus on your similarities and connectedness.

We all have feelings, wants & needs, and ideas, right?

It’s so much better to recognize everything we have in common, even if sometimes it’s harder to do. Showing compassion and empathy for another person will go a long way in making and maintaining relationships.

Remember, it’s not about being right or even agreeing. It’s about recognizing and acknowledging the humanity in each of us. It’s about being open to understanding another person’s beliefs.

We are all human. We are social beings who want to be loved, accepted and respected. When we realize that we all wish the same things, it becomes easier to recognize the oneness in all that exists.

Choose to be a little more understanding, a little more open, a little more kind and loving – even towards those who you don’t agree with or always understand.

When we are able to see the humanity in each of us and show lovingkindness towards one another, we begin to tear down walls and build bridges instead.

Let’s build more bridges.

Share the love…

I’d love to hear from you… How will you choose today to be more open, more connected? What walls will you tear down and what bridges will you build? g

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chrissy gruningerChrissy Gruninger is an author and mindset coach. She mentors people on how to live their ONE beautiful life, wherever they may be. Her latest book, Lost and Found in the Land of Mañana explores her life in Costa Rica and both the challenges of working and living abroad as well as the beautiful life we can create from those experiences.

She loves her rainforest beach shack in Costa Rica, the sunshine and the rain and passionately believes that through intentional actions we create more happiness, health and harmony in the world. 

Her goal: to empower others to thrive in an imperfect world.