National Day of Listening

“I love that simple story that ends on a grace note,

and you go, ‘Wow, I’m just happy to be alive right now.'”

Cameron Crowe

We all love a story; here’s a chance to hear one! 

As much as the economy needs a boost, the Friday after Thanksgiving can be more than a shopping frenzy (who thought up the frightening title Black Friday for a day people are buying gifts anyway!?). Friday, November 27, 2009, is the second annual National Day of Listening, a day to spend time in conversation with someone you care about! Sponsor National Public Radio and the event’s founder suggest we use the day to each become autobiographers, interviewing people in our lives to document their stories.

What a perfect way to strengthen relationships during holiday family gatherings and community service projects! On Thanksgiving, we are with people of all ages, family members we rarely see and new friends we are meeting for the first time. While eating delicious food and watching football are often the central activities, there is usually plenty of time for conversation…and stories!

As a storyteller, I have long treasured the remembrances of elders I know, eventually becoming the story keeper for family and friends. You probably have older people in your family who tell and retell the same old stories. I have found those “same old stories” are often clues to a person’s sense of who they are and what they value!

As fascinating as “stories of the old days” are, it is also true that we need to listen to the present day experiences too. Everyone has stories: children and youth, spouses and siblings, loved ones and new friends, pleasant people and even grouches! In fact, the beginning of understanding other people is hearing about the triumphs and tragedies they have come through. In this way, we connect generations, cultures and continents.

InSpiritry promotes Greater Good Thinking – Using a Wider Lens, an Open Mind and a Gentle Heart. Those concepts are especially valuable when applied to listening. Here’s why:

  • We grow by widening the lens through which we see/listen to people, as we push ourselves to consider the vast collection of information beyond our present limited experience of the world.

  • We learn by opening our minds to new and empowering informationa and wisdom, especially the practical knowledge gained by those who have had a very different life experience than we have.

  • We are spiritually blessed by softening our hearts to accept and affirm the gift of a story, since hearing a person’s story is the first step in friendship, insight, empathy and compassion.

This year, make your Thanksgiving a celebration of people and their stories. Take a few minutes to give others your full attention. Join me in the National Day of Listening – and then spend the whole year listening!

When We Listen to the People in Our Lives, Their Stories Can Be a Blessing!

Join the InSpiritry Conversation about this post!  Whose stories do you want to hear?

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