Monday, November 23, 2009

The Joy Diet - Connection

This chapter of Martha Beck's book stood out for me. Maybe that's because I am a connector. I think it's my vocation.
I grew up moving around a lot. Learning to make fast connections became an important survival skill. And even when I settled as an adult, I found I loved pulling people together, meeting new people and finding ways to fit with them, figuring out what we had in common, enjoying learning about our differences. I like to stay in touch. Sometimes I make contact with people I haven't seen or heard from in years. Some connections get broken, and some just seem to melt away. There has been pain and heartache from some of the losses, relief occasionally; but the overall joy and satisfaction of building relationships is more than worth the risk of loss. The Little Prince was always a favorite story about connection.

I recognized in reading this chapter that sometimes my tendency is to give up my ground in the interest of making things easier. And I make assumptions all over the place.

A couple of years ago I picked up an interesting book that had a personality test in it; you figured out where you were in a spectrum of about 15 categories and that information might help you understand yourself and the people in your life. I took it, my parents took it, some friends took it - we had a few aha moments. I realized that I'm not as adventurous as I thought I was. My husband wouldn't take it. He didn't really say he refused - he just never got around to it. I was dying to find out how he would score. So I took it for him!
I answered 104 questions as I thought he would answer. I figured him out. And later we were with friends talking about the test and I said something like "Well, he is more this than that so that explains ..." He looked at me and said, "But I didn't take the test." He had become in my mind what I had determined he was. We doubled over laughing and have laughed a lot over it since then. I realized how easy it is for me to make assumptions about people. And then I'm not really connecting with them. It's a one sided relationship. I think it's a hazard in many relationships - I can recognize times when I've made incorrect assumptions about customers, friends, and family. And I see that by becoming still in myself, I may be able to be more true to them and let them show me more of who they are. I started practicing this in small bits - I like the calmness it brings, even if it is only for an instant.

By the way, I have to say that my favorite line in this chapter was "When you're doing nothing, caring for your screaming toddler creates only empathy for what it's like to be a very ambitious person in a very small body."

I've loved the connections that we've been making in this book club - even if they are just for this short time, I'm so grateful for the willingness of my fellow participants to share themselves so readily. Thank you, thank you.

You can follow the wonderful discussions that this chapter has generated by going to


  1. I usually resent it when people think they know me, when they put a strict label on me. Because often they don't know me all, and then they're suprised when I do something that doesn't fit my lable. I hope I don't do that to others, but thinking about what you said, I realise it's quite possible I do, though not extreme.

    And how delighting it must be to be a connector! I can get on with lots of people, but I don't often reach out. I surprised myself when I did a summer course in the summer of 2008, before starting university. We were waiting to get into the auditorium, and I just said to a girl how scary I thought it all was. She felt the same, and she's one of my best friends today!

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and thank you for your appreciating comment on my blog!
    Bubbly girl

  2. Ah yes, I think we all tend to make assumptions to various degrees... I think it's wonderful that you have discovered that the stillness within helps you to be more compassionate and more authentic. Bravo!

    "When you're doing nothing, caring for your screaming toddler creates only empathy for what it's like to be a very ambitious person in a very small body." I love that too. Tee hee.

  3. Assumptions. Yah. I'm always amazed at my own process, too. How often I am unwilling to just step up, open my mouth, and ask -- but instead will assume. You made me stop and consider if maybe I do that because the asking would ripple the waters. Hmmm?? And OMG, yes, that quote from Martha's book -- I soooooooooooooooo get that one, too. Our grandchildren remind me of that aspect all the time, too. I remember being their age and wanting desperately to be older so I could "do things." Now I'm older and I still feel like the ambitious person in a very small body :)
    Miracles to you!

  4. i am grateful to have connected with you!! loved sharing in this journey with you. hugs!!