Just after the election, I was in a shoe repair store waiting in line. A man walked in behind me and I turned to look at him. He seemed like he was recently from Africa. Could he vote? Who knows. We smiled at each other and said hello. It was only a moment.
But it was genuine and spontaneous. And the room seemed to brighten just a bit. When I turned to the counter to talk about shoes, I was happy. This simple moment flavored the whole experience. What is it about a genuine greeting that does that? To me, it was a moment of love. Love changes everything.
Another recent day, I walked into the local community center which has 2 sets of doors to enter into the building. Just as I was arriving, another guy was too. A young white guy. Democrat? Republican? Who knows.
He opened up the outside door for me and I returned the favor for the inside door. A simple act of generosity for one another. Only a few moments, but I would call them a few moments of love. It was a wonderful way to enter the building. Love changes everything.
A few weeks ago, before the election, I happened to be in a glass repair shop. While I was waiting for the work to be done, an older man and I ended up chatting, starting with what was on Fox news in the waiting room. It was clear we had very different perspectives, but we did not dwell on that.
Instead, we moved on and I listened to his stories about growing up and then he asked me about my life. The news about the election and the candidates faded into the background as we got to know each other and accepted and appreciated each other. It was a very enjoyable conversation as we expressed genuine interest in one another.
We parted as friends and the whole experience lasted maybe 20 minutes. In those minutes, a kind of love happened. Nothing dramatic or sensual. Nothing sticky. We didn’t need one another and we didn’t want to win some kind of intellectual battle about election issues. But you could just feel the pleasant atmosphere in the room. In this way, love changes everything.
A moment, a few moments, a few minutes. Connecting, appreciating, helping, learning. Out of the head and into the heart. Out of judgement and into acceptance. And then maybe a smile or a helping hand. These small things have a positive effect on our minds, lift our hearts and brighten the days of others. I suggest this as a way forward.
What alternative do we have? Elevate our pain or superiority? Focus on division? Focus on separation? Physical fighting? Hurting one another? Are these really the only way to move forward? No.
Little moments like I described soothe the pain of separation and slowly accumulate goodwill with one another so that when we must have necessary, difficult conversations, both sides are better off having seen one another as human beings first. As real people, rather than as a bundle of opinions and strong emotions.
Maybe this sounds corny or sappy—kind of simple stuff like we might advise children to do for one another. Maybe it’s not the clinical prescription that you are looking for in dealing with our current, very adult-like situation where some people see huge opportunities and others see utter disaster.
But I would propose that for adult conflicts, when there is a discrepancy between our hearts and our heads, we listen more to our hearts. It doesn’t mean becoming stupid. Just the opposite. A kind of fuller intelligence starts to grow and bloom and new, creative solutions are discovered where before there were only entrenched positions.
But what to do when you only feel pain and hopelessness because your side lost? Or even what to do when your side won?
The same thing. Love.
If you are losing, learn the techniques of surrendering to the heart. It will slowly bring forth healing and help you cope and navigate better. And if you are winning, just reflect for a few moments on your past experience with winning.
Does it stay that way? Do you win forever and ever? Does it make you fearful that there will be retribution in a few years? And if you see that as a possibility, doesn't it make sense to think longer term, to make sure the vengeance is less severe? If so, then it also makes sense to let the heart speak. Let in a little love!
This is not woo-woo stuff. My original training was in electrical engineering. Then business. This is practical stuff. Scientific. Cause and effect. It’s called meditation and it works.
In meditation, we learn to slowly but surely let go and trust. Through various techniques we learn to settle and experience peace.
In small moments here and there, the mental chatter and worries fade and are soothed in a kind of open, connecting and embracing calmness. And even when deeper, disruptive patterns emerge, continued meditation can help you through them.
It can feel like pure love, in tiny little waves meeting you and washing your cares away.
Thousands and thousands of people have experienced this through the ages. It works. Research shows that it does. But just look at your own experience and decide. You don’t need research to know that love is the way. Just practice it.
And bit by bit, you will feel more love no matter where you are, no matter what you are doing or whom you are with. And you probably know from experience, when you are feeling more peaceful and loving, there is less need to quarrel.
Love changes everything.