“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view.” ~ Harper Lee
Remember the story about the blindfolded men and an elephant? If not, here’s the gist of it:
Five men examine an elephant by touch. They are trying to determine what it is. But each man is blindfolded. And each feels only one part: a leg, a side, a tusk, the trunk, and the tail. When each declares what is before him, they begin to argue vehemently, each believing he is “right.”
In a sense, they are all “right” because each is describing his own experience and what he is able to perceive from his limited encounter with the elephant. From another perspective, however, none are right because they are far from understanding the whole, or what an elephant truly is.
Like all good parable stories, this one offers wisdom.
May we remember that, even with our eyes wide open,
none of us has full understanding about elephants
or about anything.
With that wisdom, let’s share our views
and listen to one another with curiosity and respect.
Love and compassion too.
PS – One way to better understand one another when we disagree is to say: “Please tell me your story. I want to understand how you see things and how you have come to hold that opinion.” Or, something to that effect in your own words.
“It’s not so much knowing when to speak, but when to pause.”
~ Jack Benny
Hmmm. There’s wisdom and power in that.
Comedian Benny’s comment was probably about pausing to obtain the best laughter. But pausing before speaking is wise in all types of communication. Consider pausing and saying Hmmm in the midst of conversations you have today.
Marriage counselor and author Kathlyn Hendricks recommends pausing and saying Hmmm not only because it can help us make time to respond with care rather than react, but also because saying Hmmm truly helps us to wonder, to consider, and to make room for possibilities.
Saying Hmmm conveys respect to the other person too. It’s as if you are saying, “Let me think about that.”
When we pause and say Hmmm, we are sending a “Let me think about that” message to our own minds as well. Saying Hmmm can help us meet one another heart to heart instead of going head to head.
So whether a discussion is becoming heated, or not, whether it is with a family member, friend, co-worker, neighbor, or stranger, try pausing and saying Hmmm.
You might be amazed at what happens.
Blessings to all our conversations and relationships.
The Twelve Gifts of Birth Foundation has launched a “conscious parenting” project that involves giving Welcome to the World keepsake folders to hospitals and birthing centers to pass on to moms of new babies.
The Welcome to the World keepsake is designed to encourage parents to nurture the inner strength, compassion, hope, joy and other natural gifts and talents in their children.
The folder includes a congratulatory letter, a Twelve Gifts Birth Certificate, and a Ways to Nurture the Gifts in Your Child mini poster with 60 simple yet powerful ways to cultivate self worth and positive character traits in children.
Signed copies of The Twelve Gifts of Birth book are also given to the babies born on the launch date at each participating hospital. The project further includes a method through which participating hospitals can receive on-going donations from The Twelve Gifts of Birth Foundation.
The first institution to receive the Welcome to the World keepsakes is Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies in Orlando, Florida.
For more information about Welcome to the World and how to obtain the keepsakes, please visit www.thetwelvegiftsofbirthfoundation.com
Suggested ways to nurture The Twelve Gifts in children can be found at www.thetwelvegiftsofbirth.com
Launched with much love for all the little ones!
How do we do this? We don’t see as we did when we were children. With wonderment. Over time our senses have dulled. We’ve seen so much. Perhaps too much. There may be things we wish we have never seen. Continue reading
A week ago, Suffield High School Principal Donna Hayward in Suffield, Connecticut delivered a commencement address that was inspired by The Twelve Gifts of Birth. I’m sharing it here because I believe Ms. Hayward’s message of hope and courage is for all of us. Thank you, Donna, for permission to post your speech along with your photo. I hope to meet you someday, new friend! And thank you, dear reader. As always, I would love to hear your comments.
Class of 2014, you are just minutes from receiving your high school diploma. Your parents are wondering how you got here so fast, as it seems such a short time ago that you were born. Just a few years ago, you took your first steps, spoke your first words, got on the school bus kindergarten bound, learned to ride a bike. This is a natural time for your parents to reflect on the last 18 or so years and for us, your teachers, to reflect on whatever role we have played in your upbringing. As it turns out, teaching and parenting are closely related.
When my daughter was born, we received the usual tidal wave of gifts – blankets, cute little outfits, and baby gear of all kinds. One gift, in particular, though stood out as it arrived without a note or tag from the sender to indicate who had given it. One day, it simply arrived in my mailbox – its message clear – but to this day I don’t know who sent it. It was a book entitled, The Twelve Gifts of Birth, by Charlene Costanzo and it details the gifts or qualities bestowed upon each of you upon your birth as a human. “Royal dignity was yours from the day you were born,” the book begins – and on that day and on a day such as this all parents and teachers hope their children know these gifts. My role today is to remind you that you do all have them and to implore you to use them consciously and with purpose from this day forward.
The first gift is Hope and each of you were born with it. Continue reading
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Looks for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ ” – Fred Rogers
Mindful of hope, let’s look for the helpers.
Mindful of beauty, let’s be the helpers.
Mindful of wisdom, let’s nurture others with this perspective.
With love and gratitude for my mom and all moms, Happy Mother’s Day!
When I catch myself starting to judge, and I wish, instead, to simply accept all the differences among us, I recall a family trip to Italy.
Upon arriving in Multepulciano, we visited the Duomo.
“Aw, cute doggie,” gushed Stephanie, pausing on the steps outside the door.
“Look! A della Robbia!” squealed Many Lou upon entering and glancing to the left.
Frank was drawn straight to the tomb.
The worn wooden kneeler in front of the confessional most interested me. While each member of our family explored according to his or her own interests, with my own knees pressed into the grooves formed over centuries, I thought of the hurts carried in the hearts of thousands of people who had knelt there before me.
Krista stood, took all that in, and, with delight, shared what she saw: Stephanie loving animals, Mary Lou loving art, Frank loving history, me loving stories.
The fact is: we all see the world differently.
Instead of trying to convince others to see things our way or judge others for having different points of view and interests, we can appreciate the rich diversity among us and follow the callings of our own hearts.
All with reverence.
Thank you, Stephanie, for sharing this photo of a tree growing in the gutter.
the strength that is in us,
the strength that is life,
the beauty that is in us,
the beauty that is life,
the courage that is in us,
the courage that is life,
the hope that is in us,
the hope that is life,
the gifts that are in us,
the gift that is life.
Why not appreciate the contrasts among us and respect all surface appearances and perspectives about life and the universe… all our differences?
Cultivating reverence for all people and being open to all points of view is what will lift us to new heights of freedom, peace, and prosperity.
We can’t stop the “madness” of others but we can stop ourselves from adding to it. We can refrain from mean-spirited talk. We can walk away from it. We can speak for harmony. We can teach the value of respect to all our children by modeling it for them in this way.
Diversity is a good thing. It supports life, growth, healing, and discovering. Let’s honor it. We can express what we believe with maturity and grace.
We can bring peace, respect, and kindness into the world, each one of us can. It’s the only way…one by one.