My six-year-old, Myer gave me five dinosaur stickers for my journal the other day. He noticed that all of my other journals had stickers, but my new one was lacking them. He just got a book full of stickers from the book fair. It was a thoughtful and kind gesture and a proud dad moment. At the core of his action, he wanted to connect with me in a meaningful way. He succeeded in doing that as well as sparking a larger internal dialog.
People want to connect with other people.
The root of many actions can be broken down to this simple idea, even if the manner in which the action presents itself seems diametrically opposed. For example, if I share an opinion with you, I may be driven by the excitement of sharing new knowledge or by the desire to win or be correct. Either way, the core motivation is connection.
Couldn’t this concept offer a more empathetic lens to the actions of others?
Sometimes I find myself annoyed by how someone else is acting. First of all, the frustration I feel is my problem. I am in control of my own actions and not the actions of others. My reaction is my responsibility. Since I am not a monk living in the Himalayan Mountains, my internal narrative can sometimes reflect an external response that is not always ideal. Does that mean I have to stay in situations that test my nerves? Not necessarily, but knowing that connecting may be the ultimate goal of the action, it could help me cultivate some patience.
We all need triggers and waypoints to remind ourselves of what is important.
Everytime I look at the dinosaur stickers on my journal, I see my son smiling in an effort to connect with me. I’m reminded to take a breath and remember that the desire to connect is often a key motivator in many actions.