Until moments ago, I thought I had coined the phrase Humanity Quotient. But apparently, the phrase is already in common use. Instead of rehashing what others have shared, I want to share my own personal lessons on how to increase my connection with the world around me.
Meaningful Connection Begins with Intentional Disconnection
All day long, we hear stories of human tragedy, the type of story that makes you aware of something horrific but fails to point you to a way to help. And even if you can help, there are more tragic stories than hours in the day. Should the latest school shooting consume more of your attention than the latest natural disaster? Is the most recent political scandal a higher priority than the latest research that says eggs went from bad to good and back to bad again?
It’s not that we should ignore the human suffering around us. But staying connected to tragedies 24/7 takes its toll on us emotionally. It makes us more sad and anxious.
Before around-the-clock news coverage, we learned about breaking news long after it broke. Before the internet, we wouldn’t use WebMD every time we got the sniffles and become convinced that we had a terminal illness. Before the proliferation of videos, we didn’t have visual images of beheadings, animal abuse, and mass shootings. We could choose to stay blissfully uninformed.
Do you know how ostriches try to hide by burying their heads in the sand? Well, they don’t. That concept of hiding their heads is based on a false interpretation of what the large bird is actually doing when it sticks its head in a hole in the ground. It digs a hole to bury its eggs. When it sticks its head in the ground, it’s not hiding. It’s rotating its eggs to increase their chances of hatching. For the ostrich, its main priority is to pass on life to the next generation.
Maybe it looks to others like I’m sticking my head in the sand to hide from things I fear. But I’m not. I’m keeping an eye on my “eggs,” my greatest priorities: my wife, children, extended family, as well as furry and non-furry friends.
Meaningful Connections Require Intentional Connections
Last week, I got to visit a woman I love, even though I had never before met her. She is my wife’s Aunt Ann. We had chatted over email for a couple of years, but now that I’ve met her, I wish I had met her decades before. She is family, and she is part of my tribe.
When we visited with her, I didn’t stay current on the latest possible impeachment talks or how climate change is going to kill us off within another generation. Those things might happen, I don’t know. But I know that my energy, compassion, and love grew when I spent time with Ann.
Yesterday, a dear friend reached out to tell me that she was on her way to put down her beloved dog, Lila. I asked if I could come with her. I hate death, having tasted too much of it. But I love my friend, and I love Lila. Rubbing Lila’s belly with one hand and holding my friend’s shoulder with the other, I sobbed as Lila took her last breath.
At the same moment, other tragic events were happening in another place. I couldn’t fill sandbags in Iowa to stop flooding or attend funerals in New Zealand. But I could be here, in this room, sobbing with my friend.
I care about many things. But I can CARE personally for only so many. By disconnecting from some human suffering, I am able to connect more fully to those around me and care and love in a deeper, more meaningful way.
So am I an ostrich? Yes. I’m focusing on what I can do and those I can love as my top priority. I’m increasing my humanity quotient by loving one person at a time.
How are you increasing your humanity quotient and forging deeper human connections with those around you?