5 Minutes of a Surprisingly Joyful Experience

The other night Jean, my husband, came home and mentioned that he heard on NPR (National Public Radio) that parents (when they were really honest with themselves) did not spend uninterrupted time listening to their children and that 5 minutes a day would take them further than they could imagine.

Thinking that we were good conversationalists with Zoe-Pascale and that we listened to her, we began to wonder. Yes we had dinner each night together and yes we conversed, discussed, and asked questions, but did we truly listen?

So, laying on the couch, reading a book, eating some strawberries, Jean pulled up a chair with his glass of red wine -- looking somewhat like the analyst and patient while I played footsie with Zoe lying on the other end of the couch.

"We want to listen to you," we said. "Tell us what you think." 

"About what, she said?" "Anything," we answered.

Without a moment's hesitation she went into a long monologue about how she wanted to be a Marine Mammal Veterinarian- not any other kind. And she didn't have to be an expert in swimming or scuba diving (which I had been telling her) she said, rolling her eyes at me, "but I will work in the lab and pick them up and make them better. The ideas kept pouring out from things she read, saw at Sea World, or heard on a DVD. Every couple of sentences, Jean and I would start to utter a statement, a response, a question -- and the other would say, "Shhh. let her talk." For another 5 minutes she continued to talk and seemed to enjoy the undivided attention and non-interrupted parents influencing her thinking.

At different points, Jean started to jump in, stop himself and I would do the same. We laughed at ourselves and whispered. "This is so hard." Now we are good listeners- at least we can be when we want to be-- but this took on an entire new dimension of truly listening without wanting to influence, broaden thinking, change the direction, get a word in edge wise, or rebuttal what she was saying. We were truly listening.

After 10 minutes, she said, "That was fun. I like it when you listen to me without talking too!"

From the mouth of babe-- she loved it and we learned more about what she was thinking and feeling in those 10 minutes than we had believed.  By not having our own agendas we could truly hear what she felt, what her thoughts were, her concerns, and her ideas. The level of understanding went ever so much deeper than we would have thought-- and we were mesmerized with what she was telling us. 

Another idea on bringing more joy into your lives that is easy, simple, costs nothing, and mor rewarding than we could have imagined. Try it, you might be surprised.  


Jean and Zoe walking in the Zen Center at Muir Beach