Bucket lists are not really my thing, and I can’t tell you how many “resolution” blog posts I’ve seen over the last week. But it is a new year. And with that, I have a new word.
Last year, I rallied around a word to shape my goals. My word was DEPTH. I wanted to delve into my communities, to commit to projects, and draw closer to God.
This year, my word is LISTEN. I was inspired after finding this article that affirms so much of what I believe in — “The Joy Of Quiet” (New York Times, Dec. 29). Since my professional work is so active — I’m constantly writing, watching, posting, sharing — I also firmly believe in time to process, to reflect, to listen. There is such relief that comes with “white space” — a blank canvas, a quiet moment, the open road. Listening offers the chance to observe, take in new ideas, learn from people with a variety of viewpoints.
Listen in the silence. How many times throughout the day am I interrupted, either by choice or not? Silence can be productive. Sometimes, in order to hear God more clearly, you need to turn down the volume in other areas. This couldn’t be more true for me than with digital noise. Jim Wallis writes that we all should practice more “people time” and less “screen time.” If I can maximize my computer time, I’ll have more time to invest in people and projects of value (and probably get more sleep, too!).
Listen for God and to God. Daily. To this extent, I want to further explore spiritual disciplines. Pastor Mark’s latest book is Circle Maker, which explores the power of prayer. God reveals more of himself in the quiet; he even says:
But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
If praying — listening — is a spiritual discipline, then I definitely need to get into shape.
Listen to others. I’m usually pretty excited about life, and I’m not afraid to show it — arms waving passionately, and my face contorted 7 million ways to express each and every thought. But I think that listening is an art, and it can be a very humbling experience. Listening reminds us that we are not the center of the universe.
Listen to stories — sad, happy and in-between. One of my favorite projects is The People’s District, run by Danny Harris. His niche has been recording and sharing the stories of average people all around him. In this same journalistic fashion, I also find it valuable to know a person’s story.With all my interactions this year, I want to ask myself: “what does that person have to teach me?”
I really, really liked Maggie Fox’s recent tweet:
“OH: My New Year’s Resolution is to shut up more.” << Really, this is a good one for pretty much all of us.
Now for good measure: a scene from Disney’s The Princess Diaries.
If you could focus 2012 around one word, what would it be? In what ways can being a better listener make you a better person?