Listening: Acquiring Wisdom and Gaining Wonder

“Deep listening is an act of surrender. We risk being changed by what we hear.” – Valarie Kaur, activist, lawyer, author

The hardest part of listening is letting go of our need to speak. If we can stop and pay attention to our mind’s propensity to formulate thoughts, we may just be able to hear what someone else is saying.

In listening closely to someone, we risk not being able to tell the other all the things we think, feel, and believe. But the potential for gain includes a perspective that could change the way we see, a perspective that just might help us acquire some wisdom and a little bit of wonder.

In this time of almost unfathomable opportunity for communication, perhaps we can take an honest inventory of the imbalance we may have between our speaking and listening skills.

Social media points to an overabundance in our ability to express and a dearth in our ability to listen. There is a time and place to lay out clearly formulated and well thought out ideas, but let’s be honest. Most of the time, we just want to get our opinion out there.

We all come to our beliefs and opinions through this thing called life. And the road each of us has walked doesn’t look like anyone else’s journey, no matter how similar it may look.

Are we soft enough, humble enough, to be changed by the story of another? We don’t need to change our core beliefs, but we can change our understanding of another’s pain. We open our minds to a side we have never considered. We surrender that almost obsessive impulse to insert our opinions into a conversation.

Every time we read a book, we agree to listen without interrupting. What if we took some of the discipline required to read into our conversations?

Just maybe we will be able to gain some wisdom. And see the wonder inside another human spirit.

The more I wonder, the more I love.

Alice Walker, The Color Purple

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