Wellness Pearls

19 July 2023

Seen and Heard: A How-To on being a Great Friend

We first make our habits, then our habits make us.                                         John Dryden (English poet, died 1701)

I was talking to  my friend Pia about something I wanted to do but felt it would be difficult and could not find a way forward.  As I blathered on about all of the barriers in my way, she listened and said, “do you want my opinion, or do you want my support?”

I delighted in being asked and chose to hear her opinion.  She thought it was a terrible idea for me because she noticed what I was wanting was not aligned with who I am and what she sees in me.  I suddenly saw what she saw.  I decided on the spot to drop it, stop wanting, stop pursuing.  The problem vanished.  I literally outgrew the problem in minutes.

What was transformative about this brief and loving conversation was the feeling of being seen and known.  The supporting evidence she provided was so helpful because it was true.  It’s hard to see things that are too close to us.

My new wellbeing practice when a friend or family member is torn or struggling with a problem is to simply ask,  “do you want my opinion or my support?”  Beautiful (and deep gratitude to Pia!)

Often the hands will solve a mystery that the intellect has struggled with in vain.                                           Carl Jung

Wellbeing Ideas

Decision-Making Razors

A razor (shave off)  is a philosophic rule of thumb that helps eliminate unlikely explanations.  This blog lists  over 20, handy when having to make too many decisions  with limited information.  Occam’s Razor is the idea that of all competing explanations, the simplest one is the most likely… e.g. when you hear hoofbeats think horses, not zebras.

My Favorite?   The Rooms Razor.  If you have a choice between entering two rooms, choose the room where you are more likely to be the dumbest one in the room.  Once you are in the room, talk less and listen more.  Bad for your ego, great for your growth.

BBC Slow Radio

Listen to the sounds of the earth, Geysers,  Snails, Irish Cattle, a choir in Harlem, a fishing port and hundreds more-  the sounds of life slowed down, soothing to the soul.

Travel Tip

Summer travel is here and requires endless patience.  I have had to wait for an Uber or Lyft driver at airports and I have a hard time identifying the driver in a sea of cars.  Huge hassle.   You can take the first free hotel or subway shuttle and summon the driver from the hotel or station-  avoiding airport fees, long waits, and hunting down for the driver.

Also if you want to know more about where you are going, you can check out this website, it’s an interactive globe that will show the birthplace of notable people anywhere in the world

50 ways to be Generous and Feel Ridiculously Good

A great list. My favorite?  #48. Ask someone, “How are you doing—really?” Give them the opportunity to share what’s really going on. Listen without interrupting. Give them the gift of your presence and attention.

The Energy Bus

It is becoming clear that strong leaders are actually managing energy –of themselves and others.  Here is a fable by John Gordon on modern leadership techniques that can help us think differently about our work and how we show up and engage as leaders (we are all leaders).  Energy goes where the energy flows. Thanks for the recommendation Bridgette, at the NP Wellness Retreat in Colorado this week!

Stay Well,   Eileen


6 Responses

  1. dorothy schilder

    So great what Pia said and so true. Many times as a friend we either just offer support out of blind loyalty or launch into providing an opinion without being asked for one. How nice to be asked what would help in the moment and then offer what is asked of us. The stuff of nurturing friendship.

  2. Phyllis

    I love being given these words to offer support to someone. In so many situations i use phrases that seem to close off the person I am talking to (like asking a grieving person “How are you doing” can sometimes be a turnoff because the pat answer is “Fine.”) Thank you for these gifts of wisdom.

    1. Eileen O'Grady
      Eileen O'Grady

      Thank you Phyllis- there are so many ways to be in the world and I’m so glad you find this helpful. Eileen

  3. Tony

    The offer of opinion vs support is authentic in that the person you are collaborating with can be trusted as honest and unwavering. Direct and without waffling about to try and answer a response that doesn’t really help. You really can’t do much better than that

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