1. ...as we encounter people who rub us the wrong way (think- something said, facial expressions, or choices made etc.), we think 'This person is up against life just as I am, let me give grace rather than a piece of my mind.'
2. ...each of us accepts responsibility for our actions- great and small. Rather than blame-shifting, justifying or simply ignoring, we look our poor choices square in the eyes, grab them by the horn, own them, learn from and change them.
3. ...rather than getting even we get involved. What if we stop negative, toxic thinking and speech before it has time to give birth to negative toxic action? What if we get curious?
4. ... rather than giving up on people, we persevere with them. We accepted a few more challenges rather than shying away from getting in the thick of one another's messy lives.
5. ...we stood up for what we believe in and engage in real conversations with one another about those beliefs. Today, it seems that everyone phrases everything to be as non- confrontational as possible for fear that there may be push-back. What if we pushed back respectfully if you think differently? I mean, is it really offensive to share your beliefs about the best way to boil an egg?
6. ...we hug people. I live in the South. Hugging is normal. I am not usually super affectionate, but I love an impromptu hug especially from people I do not expect it from. It's not uncommon here to get hugs at work, even from one's boss. I have new co-workers this year. I got a good morning hug from one last week which really helped me to feel even more connected to her. Another colleague said 'I love you.' as I walked away from a conversation. That made me pause and reply in kind. It didn't feel weird or out of place at all. It felt like connection and family and community. What would our communities be like if we honored the connection we share with one another some times rather than being so self-conscious and politically correct?
7. ...we laugh at ourselves... at our struggles, at our shortcomings and our successes. One of my dear friends here at Writing Four Lives often reminds me to put no stock in praise or criticism. Take them both in stride. I can take myself way too seriously at times. I take other people way too seriously most of the time. My 92 year old grandmother is an expert at laughing. I am convinced it has added years to her life and life to her years. She is such a joy to be around and has the best perspective on life of anyone I know. I want to be like her before I grow up.
8. ... we live without regrets. How would your story be different if you knew that in the end you would be victorious? What if we live like that even without knowing how it will end?
9. ...the things we think about regularly but never share would change someone else's thoughts, beliefs, trajectory in life? What if we added our vulnerable, thoughtful voices to the conversations around us? What might be different?
10. ...we all, everyone of us, invested ourselves in someone else, especially a young person? What if we decided to be a champion in the life of an underdog? Hmmm, I wonder how the energy in our communities would change?
These are just a few of my random thoughts, collected as I sit quietly listening in on the conversations going on inside my head as I search my own heart or observe interactions between human beings. As I worked on another piece of writing earlier this week, I remembered that I have always been a daydreamer. "What ifs" are usually the thoughts of children.
What if we grown ups spent a little more time wondering what if ... then make a move?