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Look Longer

Eye

“Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other’s eyes for a minute?” ~Henry David Thoreau

You’re riding on the subway, immersed in a book. You’re running in the park, lost in your iPod. You’re waiting in line at Starbucks, fixated on the menu.

Sometimes we act like we’re completely alone, even when  surrounded by lots of people. It’s like we’re following an unspoken rule that suggests we shouldn’t look at each other, at least not for too long.

It happens all the time…

You suddenly make eye contact with someone you don’t know and your discomfort compels you to avert your eyes. If you do manage a smile it’s probably perfunctory, without real joy and affection behind it. Those are emotions you reserve for people you  know—people you’re more intimate with.

Some studies have indicated people who live in cities are less apt to make eye contact with strangers than people who live in suburbs. This may be a response to crowding; when you feel you don’t have enough personal space, you’re more protective of it.

If there’s truth to that hypothesis, it’s somewhat ironic. You move to a city to experience the life that pulsates through it, and then respond by shutting down in everyday situations.

Resist the urge to shutdown. Instead of walking with your eyes glued to your feet, hold your head high and connect with people. Really see them and let them see you. If you’re not a confident person, connecting for more than one second may feel incredibly difficult. Just try.

When you make a genuine connection, you acknowledge that the person in front of you is real and worthy. You remind both them and yourself that no one operates in a vacuum, that the world is so much larger than the constructs we operate within: our families, our teams at work, our friends. And lastly, you foster the type of spirit that stays open to possibilities.

When you look a little longer you see more—more in other people, more within yourself, and more within your reach.

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About Lori Deschene

Lori Deschene is the founder of Tiny Buddha and Recreate Your Life Story, an online course that helps you let go of the past and live a life you love. Her new book, Tiny Buddha's 365 Tiny Love Challenges, launches on October 6. Pre-order now and you'll instantly receive $300+ in free bonus gifts. For inspiring posts and wisdom quotes, follow Tiny Buddha on Twitter & Facebook.

Announcement: Wish you could change the past? Learn to let go and create a life you love with the Tiny Buddha course!
  • http://tinalouiseuk.blogspot.com/ Tina Louise

    beautiful plan :)

    Namaste,
    Tina Louise x

  • Ramsy

    some people see staring as intimidating. im farely sure its natural. anyway people with good intentions might look at the wrong person for too long and get in some trouble. not an entirely great idea, its just more “in an ideal world” crap.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    I think there is a difference between staring and holding eye contact a little longer. Most people don’t make eye contact at all. A few extra seconds and a smile isn’t exactly gawking.

  • Loewenbehold

    Thanks so much for the reminder. Its so easy to become lost in the whirl of our minds at the expense of missing all that's great around us, whether it be people or beautiful surroundings. I know when I do what you say my enjoyment of my own life goes up expontially. And when someone smiles bac, warmly and genuinely, its just the best.

    Maybe we could all start a free smiles campaign… much like the free hugs one http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vr3x_RRJdd4

  • Loewenbehold

    Thanks so much for the reminder. Its so easy to become lost in the whirl of our minds at the expense of missing all that's great around us, whether it be people or beautiful surroundings. I know when I do what you say my enjoyment of my own life goes up expontially. And when someone smiles bac, warmly and genuinely, its just the best.

    Maybe we could all start a free smiles campaign… much like the free hugs one http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vr3x_RRJdd4

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  • IBikeNYC

    (This can be ESPECIALLY risky here!)

    A thing I do is SAY the nice things I might be thinking. For instance, if the woman ahead of me on line is wearing a pair of shoes that makes me think, “Wow! NICE shoes!” I will TELL HER, “Wow! NICE shoes!”

    Of course, I, myself, have to be in a certain frame of mind to do this well, but it sure does make me — and usually the other person — feel great!

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