Clearly, the Savior understood that power. His ministering example teaches all the love generated when we give our full attention to others. Indeed, one of the greatest gifts we can give to others is the gift of full attention.
Understand the fix
Society today hungers for attention, so much so everyone seems scrambling after it. Whatever new trick can potentially secure the attention of others finds its way onto the to-do list of many seeking to capture attention for their own gain. And these actors, feeling a scarcity of the attention they desire, saturate us with attention demand overload.
Combine that situation with the addictive nature of social media, and it’s not hard to understand why people give more attention to their phone than to people around them. Many take full advantage of the dopamine hits social media networks are designed to generate. And far too many of us surrender our agency to the addiction we hold in our hands and carry with us wherever we go.
We’ve discussed before on this program the mediocrity this life on autopilot creates. We break free by living in the moment, making conscious choices to move in the direction we determine and not just where the impulse of addiction would drive us. That’s what I love about the suggested action for today on the Light the World calendar. It encourages us to make a conscious choice to break free from impulse and move in a direction we consciously choose.
Choose real love
That conscious choice unlocks the real power of giving our full attention in our interactions. So doing sends a clear message: Out of all the choices I could make in this moment regarding where to place my attention, I choose you. This is part of why the gift of full attention is a truly a gift of love.
The other part deals with the basic human needs we all have to feel loved, needed, and belonging to something greater than ourselves. Putting down your phone and giving your full attention to others essentially tells them they are preferred, and realizing that preference generates in others the feeling of being loved, needed, and part of something bigger.
Now consider what happens when we don’t make that conscious choice to give full attention. We tell others through our actions we choose something else over them, that something else is preferred. And that preference generates in others feelings of not being loved, needed, or part of something bigger.
I still remember the love generated during a single adult conference 12 years ago when an attendee chose to give me full attention. Our exchange lasted only five minutes, yet the influence of that seemingly small choice in how to spend five minutes has lasted 12 years, and the end is not in sight. The gift of full attention is truly a gift that keeps on giving.
Expand the power
And we need not limit the power of that gift to just the one small act the Light the World calendar suggests for today. We can expand our influence even further by practicing active listening in all settings.
Our society suffers substantially from a lack of listening. People think listening means simply hearing the words other people say. Meanwhile, they look for chances to inject what they want to say into a conversation. But real, active listening involves hearing what others say with the intent to understand them. Instead of looking for breaks to project our own selves onto others, we can use those same opportunities to try to understand others. In so doing, we help others feel loved and thereby expand the power the gift of full attention can provide.
So today and every day, let’s give more of the gift that keeps on giving. Let’s give the gift of full attention. When we do, our seeming small act of surrender to love will invite others to do the same. And when they do, the cycle will continue, resulting in a better world filled with the light and goodness of love. And that will bring us more joy in our journey.
Howdy! I'm Lance, host of Joy in the Journey Radio. I've been blogging about LDS singles life since 2012, and since 2018 I've been producing a weekly Internet radio show to help LDS singles have more joy in their journey and bring all Latter-day Saints together. Let's engage a conversation that will increase the faith of LDS singles and bring singles and marrieds together in a true unity of the faith.
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