For a long time I’ve been fascinated by people who effortlessly mix with new people, make great conversation and still manage to relax and enjoy the moment. If only we could all do this! Well, the good news is that we can be better, much better at connecting with people, we can be more comfortable expressing ourselves and we can make a great impression on other people once we become more accepting of ourselves and others.
It all comes down to taking charge of how you feel and think when you are socializing. If you feel happy, relaxed and positive then it’s much easier to talk freely and confidently without self doubt tripping you up. And that’s why I designed the Love and Connection Daily Practice, to give you a simple way to make steady progress in how you manage your emotional state while also allowing you to become more comfortable being yourself when you connect with other people. And yes, if you take a few minutes daily to follow this simple daily practice you’ll get better and better at connecting with people.
One word of warning. This daily practice goes deeper than a set of tried and tested conversation starters, it goes to the heart of what makes for great conversation skills, it’s the source that ignite friendships and relationships with the authentic energy that gets people talking and enjoying time together. Still, these fundamentals are not exotic, they’re not mysterious and they’re not complicated. For these reasons many people will miss the value of the daily practice. The magic is in practicing for a few minutes a day and enjoying the sure but steady progress that results in how you feel about yourself and others. It’s similar to how people might react when they see a movie star with the perfect body, they admire the end result but they don’t really want to see the simple fundamentals of daily exercise and diet that produced the magical results.
Be brave, take a few minutes a day for the next seven days to test this for yourself and you’ll notice you start to feel happier, more socially confident and more connected to the people in your life. And you may even notice that you’re happy before you interact and that you’re interacting to share that joy with others – that’s when the magic happens. It means you’ve started to acquire the warm glow that popular people take for granted, that attractive quality that draws people to you.
Let’s get started and discover the four elements of the Love and Connection Daily Practice.
The first element of the daily practice is to perform one act of kindness for a stranger. This can be as simple as helping someone by opening a door, letting a busy mom with kids go before you at the checkout or smiling at a stressed out waitress and asking her how she is. It doesn’t matter how small or seemingly insignificant the gesture is. That’s not the point of this exercise, the point is to be on the look out to help just one person each day. And do it to give not to get. It doesn’t matter if the person you help ignores you or fails to even thank you. The reward comes in feeling you are connected to everyone you meet in your day and the knowledge that you can reach out and interact with anyone you choose to connect with.
When this becomes a daily habit you’ll notice you are like a superhero always on the look out to make a difference and you’ll also be amazed to see how many little opportunities pop up each day where you can make a difference for someone, you’ll ultimately stop seeing strangers as distant and removed but as people you’ve just not connected with yet. You’ll also gradually shift from being passive to being more proactive when you meet people, the mall will be a place where you can meet and talk to anyone, the city streets can become meeting places and anywhere you are an opportunity could present itself to show kindness for a stranger.
I guarantee you one thing. If you’ll help just one stranger a day with an act of kindness you’ll be happier and feel more connected to everyone. You’ll also notice that many people are craving for a smile, the chance to talk to someone or just to know that someone cares enough to notice them. When that realization hits you it becomes obvious that almost everyone else is just like you, stuck in that passive attitude of waiting for someone else to make the first move.
(Obviously only approach strangers in safe environments)
The second trait to develop is an attitude of gratitude. And specifically, gratitude for the people in your life. You already have people who care about you, want the best for you and appreciate you just for being yourself. Unfortunately we all seem to get caught up in fixating on what’s not working, who’s let us down and what annoys us about the people closest to us. This then becomes a festering mess of negativity that pollutes our relationships and friendships while making us reluctant to get to know more people – why take on even more aggravation?
To counteract that negative outlook we will work the gratitude muscle, we’ll choose to be grateful for ten people in our life. This is very simple, ask yourself – who am I grateful for? Count out ten people. And it’s ok to have some or even all the same people on your list each day. And even better, you don’t need a good reason or a carefully thought out justification to include someone. Any reason is acceptable. Did someone at work help you to get your project completed on time? Are you grateful you have a brother? Did your neighbor give you a birthday card? You can see what I mean, any reason will do, and in some cases, you may even be grateful someone is in your life without even needing a reason.
This is so simple that many people will miss the whole point of this exercise. It’s only when you take a minute each day to consider ten people you are grateful for that you’ll see what this can do for you. You’ll feel closer to the people in your life and open to meeting more great people. In fact, anytime you want to put a little spring in your step, you can take a moment to ask yourself: who am I grateful for?
3. Love Yourself
This is a key element of the daily practice. The more you love and accept yourself the less you will need the approval and endorsement of those around you and when this happens you will be more relaxed, more present for others and less fearful about sharing your thoughts and feelings. The more you love yourself the more you will allow your true self to shine, you’ll be more expressive and your unique authentic personality will attract people to you.
For these reasons it’s very important to give ourselves love and approval and I recommend you take a moment each day to ask yourself: what do I love about myself? Keep going until you come up with ten responses and don’t worry about having ten profound reasons, any reason you love yourself is a good reason. You might find by doing this each day that many of the same reasons pop up and that’s fine too. What’s important is to train yourself to notice that you do care about yourself and to day by day love yourself a little more.
Here are some examples of what you can love about yourself:
- Healthy body
- Enthusiasm for life
- Positive outlook
- Willingness to support friends
- Commitment to ongoing self improvement
- Can do attitude
- Sense of justice
When you do love yourself more and more you’ll notice that people respond to you differently, it’s as if there is an energetic glow about you that makes people keen to get to know you better. Even if they can’t put a finger on it people will find you more attractive for some reason, they’ll take you more seriously and treat you better. You’ll also tend to associate more with other people who value themselves, when you love yourself more you won’t tolerate poor treatment from negative people, you’ll gravitate to happier people like yourself. Your happier self will now repel the difficult people who you endured in the past and draw happy, positive people to you.
Sounds too easy, doesn’t it? Yes, it is simple and it works so well because there is a multiplier effect when you practice each element of the daily practice. Test it yourself and you’ll see how powerful it can be maintaining a simple daily practice that causes you to feel great and connected to other people.
Forgiveness is another essential quality to pay attention to because if we don’t old resentments and suppressed anger will over time create a wall between us and other people. Previous disappointments, failures and rejections can cause us to fear getting to know people and before we know it everyone is a potential source of pain, trouble and problems. Clearly, that’s a very poor formula for being at your best when you talk to people.
Like the other elements of the daily practice this only takes a minute or so each day. Simply ask yourself: who can I forgive today? Then, run through ten people you choose to forgive, for your benefit not theirs. There is no need to go into a lengthy analysis and a slow, difficult selection of who to forgive and why, simply pick ten, any ten, and run through them quickly. Your brain has all the memories stored away so, for example, if you decide to forgive Lisa, you know and your unconscious knows why, don’t bother diving into the repressed negative feelings from the past.
Do bear in mind that forgiveness is a selfish act, you forgive for your sake and being forgiving has nothing to do with helping or harming anyone else, it’s a gift you give yourself so you can be happier and more positive going forward and less cautious about meeting new people. The more you put the past behind you the less baggage and distortion you’ll bring to the present so you’ll be better able to see people as they are instead of cynically viewing people as potential problems if you don’t keep them at arms length.
After a few days of practicing forgiveness for a minute or so a day you’ll notice how much lighter and freer you feel as you forgive people who’ve wronged you in the past, this letting go is a great feeling. At this stage if you choose you can forgive people in the moment. Let’s say you get poor customer service instead of getting annoyed maybe you’ll choose to take a moment to silently forgive the person. Ironically, your resulting calmness makes you more effective at dealing with the situation since a calm mind produces better solutions than an angry one. When you live like this you’ll be a master of forgiveness and someone who quickly turns every annoying interaction into an opportunity to forgive and feel better in a matter of moments while still resolving issues that need to be dealt with.
And best of all, forgiveness allows the possibility of connecting with more agreeable people because you never shut down out of resentment and overwhelm after talking to difficult people. You are in charge of how you feel and how you interact so you can simply move on and meet friendlier people who appreciate and respect you.
In this post we’ve looked at four key elements which when developed together will make a dramatic difference to your ability to let your personality shine while also enabling you to connect much more easily with others. Kindness, gratitude, loving yourself and forgiveness provide the solid foundation you need to truly be at peace with yourself and others. A few minutes a day will make the world of difference if you follow this simple daily practice. Why? Because in time this practice cultivates new habits that form the basis of how you live and interact all day long.
I have an easy challenge for you. Practice the daily practice for the next 7 days. Take a few minutes a day and simply notice what happens. It might surprise you that something so simple once applied can make such a big difference in your acceptance of yourself and others and in your growing ability to enjoy talking and connecting with the people in your day to day life.
Then, if you continue with the daily practice, after a few weeks this new outlook will become habitual, it’ll becomes the new normal for you. If someone is rude, you silently forgive them in the moment and let it go while still asserting yourself when it’s necessary. If you notice that someone needs a helping hand you step up to commit an act of kindness, if you feel beaten up by the difficulties of the day you pause and notice who you are grateful for and immediately you start to feel lighter and more at peace. If you feel lonely or in need of a good chat you reflect on what you love about yourself, you start to feel happier and you feel that warmth that can fuel a good connection with whoever you choose to reach out to.
The momentum that builds from a few key daily actions is truly impressive. It’s the brick upon brick progress that creates magnificent skyscrapers, it’s the one word after another momentum that writes literary classics and it’s the note by note to record songs that are loved by millions. A simple daily practice can transform your ability to connect with people, all you need to do is perform the simple daily actions and let momentum take care of the rest.
For your convenience here is a summary of the daily practice.
Love and Connection Daily Practice:
1 Perform one act of kindness for a stranger.
2 Who am I grateful for? List 10 people.
3 What do I love about myself? List 10 traits.
4 Who can I forgive today? List 10 people.