I have always harmonized with the idea that authentic or genuine lessons are often those lessons not taught in schools but realized from watching a true master craft their skills in everyday life. I would like to share a story about “Grandma Jennie” that is not only a story about wisdom, grace, and beauty but one that is a life lesson on how to truly make yourself memorable in the most meaningful way. Often my son and I are invited to join in festive celebrations at a neighbor’s house. Grandma Jennie lives there with her daughter and son-in-law, and family and friends visiting are a regular occurrence to generate a wonderful reason for an impromptu gathering. At the beautiful age of 95, Grandma Jennie is never a shadow or left-out person at the gathers; on the contrary, at times it is hard to get a moment of her time. Jokingly, I once said, “I have waited in a shorter line to get Billie Idol concert tickets.” So what makes this amazing woman so memorable and so special? Well, I have sat back and watched her, and her recipe is quite simple.
A Simple Recipe to being Authentically Memorable:
• 1 large dose of mindfulness
• 1 large discarded bag of ego
• 5 minutes of listening
When you walk in a room, Grandma Jennie makes you feel like the party is for you and you now stand on the red carpet as the guest of honor. You are greeted with the warmest smile and a flicker of “girl giddiness” that hints something special is afoot. Then she asks you about you! Yes, she wants to find out about you and how you are doing, what’s new, what’s been on your plate? She listens in fascination to your story; she is present with you at that very moment as if she was connecting with your mind, heart, and soul. Whether you get five minutes of her time or a half hour, it is as if she had turned the dimmer knob and quieted the outside world, quieted the room and put a bubble around just you and her; she makes you feel important in the world. The connection is authentic and genuine in a way that reminds you that the most important thing we can do as humans is to truly see one another in the hustle and bustle of life.
“Un”-Center of Attention Yourself
So here is her recipe for you: The next time you are at a gathering in any capacity you have the ability to be memorable and to create new, or rekindle, authentic friendships with meaning. At the first connecting moment greet that person authentically and be mindful that they are human and deserving of your time. Engage as if you are about to go on a journey together or find out something new and exciting; the unknown is a mystery, have fun with it. Second, take that huge bag of ego and toss it out, yes that is correct, get rid of it, make yourself the “un-center of attention” and let that person be the bell of the ball for even for just a few minutes. Last, ask that person about themselves, their likes, their dislikes, what they enjoy in life, what been happening with them, have they done anything interesting lately…immerse yourself in their world authentically and really listen. The beautiful things that happen are guards comes down, the woes of life melt away and both parties involved begin the most beautiful dance of all; the dance of connecting meaningfully. It is a connection that binds people not by words but in human spirit through actions that let the other person know indeed they are valued as a human being.
With love to Grandma Jennie
About the author: Dr. Lynn Soots has been teaching psychology at the higher education level for over fifteen. She is proud to integrate Positive Psychology applications in each of her courses to support growth and student goal attainment. From her counseling experience, she sees the importance of nurturing knowledge and self-efficacy in students— in hope that they will become strong positive leaders.