jueves, 27 de noviembre de 2008

How to Connect with Strangers

(This post is the how-to part of Chit-Chat with Strangers.)

For me, talking to strangers is very easy impossible. There are no strangers!

I believe that we are all manifestations of one Consciousness. All others are me too, just in another form, and I’m everybody. I feel one with everything that is, all other humans, animals, plants, inanimate objects, etc.

I also believe that we all permanently communicate with each other. We are one huge network, constantly exchanging information.

This way, you don’t need to connect in the first place: you are already connected, and have always been. We’ve known each other forever. Talking to a “stranger” for me is just recognizing them and acknowledging the bond which already exists between us.

That’s why I behave as if I already knew the people I talk to. Duh, I do! They’re old friends. I just hadn’t met them yet in this life. Time to catch up!

It’s all a matter of mindset

The beliefs I described above allow me to connect with others very fast and easily. It just happens naturally without me trying to do it intentionally. I don’t need to go out of my way for that.

I’m convinced that social skills are a matter of attitude. If you have a hard time connecting, you probably have some blocking beliefs about yourself, other people, social situations, or your own social skills. If you could get rid of them, I’m sure you would be able to connect with strangers as easily as I do. It would just become natural for you to do so.

Here is the description of one possible mindset (incidentally, mine) that yields good results in social situations.

How to do it concretely?

Okay, what to do to connect with a stranger? Connecting is paying attention. Where your attention goes, there goes your energy as well. Therefore, focus your energy on this person.

Look into their eyes. Many people are so afraid of others that they’re too embarrassed to allow eye contact. If you want to connect, you have to be open for connection, and that means eye contact. Looking away is hiding away.

I’m not telling you to stare at someone with a crazy or aggressive glance. Just allow friendly eye contact, you can look away once the person has seen and acknowledged you. When they look back at you, smile, but only if you spontaneously feel like smiling. A fake smile is a turn-off.

And then it’s simple really. If you don’t know what to say, don’t say anything. You don’t need to talk. When you’re being open, others feel it. If they’re being open too, and in the mood for communication, they’ll probably start talking to you on their own.

If you feel like saying something (like “hi”), then just say it. No matter what it is. You need no caution or shared interest. Feel free to talk about stupid or crazy or trivial things, it doesn't matter. I'm very spontaneous, so sometimes I say really strange things to people! But you won't believe it, they like it. Once I saw a guy in a CD shop. The next day I came back, and he was there again. I was so surprised that I stared at him and vigorously exclaimed "You again! What are you doing here?!" To what he replied "And what are you doing here?!". We both laughed, the ice was broken.

Some people tend to be way too attached to figuring out which words to use. But the energy you're sending off in that moment is way more important than the content of what you're saying. If you're attached to making a specific impression, you're likely to be self-conscious and to send off a stressed out and unpleasant vibe. If you're feeling self-confident, connected and loving towards this person, they will feel it no matter what you say - and that's what they will get.

And feeling self-confident, connected and loving is a matter of mindset...

Being present is key

I’m not fond of watching one’s body language or using lines, tricks and strategies to socialize. When you focus on what you should say or where to put your hands, you’re not being present in the moment. And that’s not what you want. You can’t connect if you’re not being present. When you’re not being present, you’re not really here. And if you’re not here, how could you meet this person here?

Present moment awareness means focusing on here and now. Don’t think of anything else than what’s happening right now. Don’t try to impress or to analyze, don’t think about what could happen next, or what happened before. Just be here with this person. Be open, listen. Observe your reactions without trying to control them. Let what happens happen. :-)

What I've found to be very useful is to always keep a part of my attention in my inner body. The inner body is what you feel when you focus on your body from the inside. Can you feel the inside of your body as one energetic field? If you can’t, practice feeling it, it’s a great sensation!

To learn more about being present and feeling your inner body, read The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. He’s the great present moment awareness specialist.

Assault old ladies!

If you want to get better at connecting with people, you need to practice. My advice is not to practice with people in your sexual or romantic target group. This would make it much more difficult. The possibility that they interpret your approach as hitting on them could block you, even if it's not at all the case, and even more so if it is the case. ;-) So, avoid that at first. Practice with other people, you'll feel safer.

The ideal targets (hehehe) are old ladies, in my experience they're always happy to get some attention and to have a nice chat. Usually they're also very friendly. Also people the age of your parents, or much younger people.

Little kids and babies are great connectors. It's very easy to connect with a baby, much easier than with an adult. They haven't all the fearful social conditioning to block them. They're curious and spontaneously offer you toothless smiles and wave you goodbye with their little hands.

They can't speak, but it doesn't matter. Remember it's more about the mindset and the energy than about the words. It's about opening up, staying present, and allowing emotions to flow out of you. You'll feel genuine connection even without words.

So, and now go out and talk to people! :-) Good luck!

(Edit: there's a follow-up to this post here.)

miércoles, 26 de noviembre de 2008

Chit-Chat with Strangers

I love to chat with strangers. You can do it everywhere: on the street, in a shop, while queuing somewhere...

Recently I was at the florist's, looking for flowers to experiment with, when a guy who was looking at the roses turned to me and asked me whether he should buy the red ones or the pink ones.
- For whom are they? I asked.
- For a girl.
- And what do you feel towards her?
- Friendship. She's a friend of mine. It's her birthday. The flowers are meant to be a surprise.
- Don't take the red ones then.
We briefly talked about the language of flowers and what those in front of us meant. I told him I liked the orange roses best.
- But they weren't part of the choice, he said.
- ok, take the pink ones then.
He did, and left with a big smile, wishing me a nice day.

I decided to buy the orange roses. As I was paying, I asked the florist if she likes her job. I was just curious, I wonder how it feels to be a florist. She was very surprised, looks like nobody asks her that question usually. She smiled, a bit puzzled and said yes, it's a nice job. She seemed to suddenly remember that she had a nice job indeed.

Such small talk with strangers is a lovely embellishment of my everyday life. It's nothing life altering or world changing, but I really like it. It makes my strolls through the city more interesting, and my whole life more beautiful.

Small talk isn't necessarily shallow. Strangers often talk with me about their private life, about their feelings, their fears or their relationships. You can become intimate with someone in the space of a minute.

Once in Germany I met an old lady on a bus. She sat down next to me, looking tired. I said "Hello." and smiled, happy to see her. She was such an adorable airy old-fashioned lady with white hair and an umbrella in her hand. She confided to me that she had been attending a tea dance. And she got to dance with a few gentlemen! I grinned. After just five minutes, she was leaning against my shoulder, whispering things into my ear about the gentlemen in her youth. We giggled like two school girls for twenty minutes till I had to alight from the bus. It was a fun bus ride!

When you're being open to communication, other people feel it, even when you're not talking to them. And then weird things happen sometimes. It's magic!

A few days ago I was walking in a neighborhood unknown to me, looking for the location of a tango class. Two young women were walking ahead of me. Suddenly one of them turned to me, claiming "You! You're spying on us!" She was kidding. I laughed.
- Oh crap! Now I got caught!
- You were following us!
- I admit. I even heard everything you just said!
The two laughed. I asked them if they knew the place I was looking for, but they didn't. So I decided to check another street. I thanked them and left.
- Hey! They called after me, And have a nice evening!


Talk to strangers on the street. Open up. It's fun and makes everybody's life nicer. If you think you're too shy, I once was the shyest person on this planet. That's something you can work on. Imagine everybody greeting each other and chit-chatting on the streets. Wouldn't that be wonderful? :-)

viernes, 7 de noviembre de 2008

How To Cure Heartburn?

Today, I feel like writing about something easy. Getting rid of heartburn is easy :-) I used to have massive, chronic heartburn in the past. Now, it never happens to me anymore. Here's how to cure it:

Short-term solution: green clay

I've found green clay to be the best cure for heartburn. Green clay is totally awesome anyway, it's a natural yet very powerful remedy for many ailments. You can use it externally to wash yourself or as a beauty mask to clear the skin. Ingesting it helps with all kinds of digestive worries.

I don't know why or how it works. I often read that green clay binds and neutralizes toxins. I've heard it's rich in minerals. I've also heard it has a high pH level, which would explain why it's so efficient against heartburn. What I know for sure is that it helps!

You can find green clay in wholefood shops and certainly also online. Mix 1-2 spoonful with a glass of cold water and drink it. If it's not enough, repeat. Your heartburn will disappear, I promise.

But of course that's only a short-term solution, once you've managed to mess with your stomach enough to cause heartburn. How to avoid that?

Long-term solution: a diet change

Heartburn is not something you get by accident or coincidence. Swallowing drugs to suppress it might eliminate your discomfort but doesn't address the real issue. If you get heartburn, then your diet sucks, it's as simple as that.

You could experiment a bit with food to identify what causes the heartburn, and then all you need to do is to cut this out of your diet. Be honest with yourself, even if you don't like what you find out.

What I personally found to cause heartburn is:

soda and fruit juices
sugar-fat mixes, like fatty cakes
refined sugar, corn syrup and chemical sweeteners
grains, even unrefined

I'm not surprised, as all this is very unhealthy stuff anyway.

My advice: reduce your consumption of these items - if possible to zero - and eat more raw, organic, whole, fresh fruit and veggies instead. You'll soon forget about heartburn :-)

lunes, 3 de noviembre de 2008

Get Creative in November!

Hi all,

Looks like November is the month of creativity. I'm a bit late with this, but I thought I'd let you know. If you'd like to do something creative this month, here are a few nice opportunities. It's not too late to join!

Join NaNoWriMo

November is the National Novel Writing Month. It should be called InNoWriMo, International Novel Writing Month, though. Every year in November, thousands of people all around the world write a novel.

Everybody can do it, the goal is not to write high-quality prose, it's just to frantically write down whatever pops into your mind as fast as possible, without editing, without trying to be good. You can edit it in December!

If you succeed in producing a 50,000 words first draft by November 30th, midnight, you win.

Of course I signed up :-) I have no clue what I'm going to write about, but I'm sure it's going to be awesome.

If you're interested, have a look at the NaNoWriMo homepage.

Join NaBloPoMo

Similarly, you can go for a 30 days blogging challenge: one blog post a day till November 30th, together with many others. See the NaBloPoMo homepage.


AEDM is the Art Every Day Month, and it's November, too. If you're neither a writer nor a blogger, but would like to get more creative and to share your creations with others, have a look at the AEDM site.

I really like the idea. It's about all kinds of creative activities, be it painting or music or cooking or crafting christmas tree decorations with toilet paper. Sounds like a lot of fun!

Are you blocked?

In case you

think you can't be creative
have some creative dreams that you don't realize for some reason
just want to get more creative in your daily life
or want to improve your ability to solve problems creatively

I highly recommend The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron. It's an amazing book I'm working through at the moment.

The Artist's Way is a twelve weeks course in discovering or recovering your creativity. It's for blocked artists as well as for all those who just want to be creative. I'll post a review when I'm done with the journey.

So... It's November! Be happy, get creative! :-)