Do you ever feel isolated? Alone in the company of many, or seeking connections that go deeper than the average discussion of the weather or how the Olympics went?
I crave this every damn day. That kind of connection and open conversation where I can express my every true thought without fear of judgment and epiphanies flow like the Nile happens every once in a while for me. Not often at all, and not often enough. I used to think it just took a certain type of person that I got that vibe with perfectly, for that to happen. And though meeting and connecting with kindred souls is beautiful, I've also experienced that connection with people I didn't hit it off with immediately after meeting them.
These interactions, whether with those kindred spirits or people very unlike me, are some of the most fulfilling experiences I've had. I have been brainstorming ways to induce more of this experience, and feel I am onto something big. I do not take full credit for this idea, since it was inspired by multiple people and ideas, but I'd like to spread it as far as possible.
The idea is to start asking people questions. Everyone, your mother, boss, closest friend, etc. It sounds simple but I've already had great experiences directly resulting from it. I'm a firm believer that everyone has something to teach us, if we just remain receptive. Ever have a day or moment where someone you initially judged as having absolutely nothing in common with you ended up teaching you something or sharing a great conversation with you and leaving you surprised, elated, and humbled? Me too. Why shouldn't this be happening every day when the potential surrounds us at all times? I meet people and I want to know their life story; Their greatest fears, passions, intense memories, longings, etc... but it's just not socially acceptable to ask your waiter these questions. It can come off as intrusive to some people, and not everyone is comfortable baring their soul for people to see. (This is another area I'm working on; being unabashedly myself, vulnerability and all).
What are some disguised ways to get to the heart and substance of a person? A great one is "If you could go back in time and tell your high school self something, what would it be?" This is just a fun idea to think about that nearly anyone would enjoy answering, but also immensely personal. You'll get some slightly humorous answers, ("Which sports team was going to win on the bet I made!" "To be more confident so I get get a bunch of chicks!"). Yes those are quotes from my lovely dad and brother.
But either way it's cool and revealing, and you learn about what's important to the person immediately. I am working on a list of thought provoking questions to ask people, and I'm going to start using them daily. Instead of complaining that there's no interesting conversations going on around me, I am going to try to create them.