Are people more stressed out than they were 10 years ago?

I love to ‘people watch’. Its more than a fascination, its a major preoccupation. I must confess though, I don’t enjoy it today as much as I have in the past, people in general just seem so disconnected and angry! Everywhere I look, I see the negative effects of this modern life we now lead, the most noticeable of which is an ever growing shortage of quality interaction with our fellow humans. Surely, one of the most important, vital ingredients of a successful life?

We all want to be successful — I get it, really I do. But there is a great irony in the way most of us go about getting success. We are encouraged to concentrate on our future, everyone aiming for the top job and beating the next guy to it, in a winner take all fight to the post. The irony however, contrary to a popular saying, is that nice people do not come last — indeed, the right kind of nice people actually come first, every time .

The right kind of nice people? They are the those that other people love to be around. That people turn to for help and advice and that people trust. Above all else, they are those that are aware of the power of interaction and engagement and focus on this power, pretty much as a base instinct!

“No one cares how much you know, until they know how much you care” Theodore Roosevelt

We need reminding from time to time?

But then, the rest of us are just getting on with our lives. Our focus is on our needs and we have precious little time to notice others and their needs.

So where does this focus come from?

We have to be aware of it’s value and importance and open for every opportunity to be reminded of its existence, to look around us, to take notice and to constantly sharpen our people skills.

These opportunities are everywhere and happen every day. At work, at home, with friends and loved ones. The opportunities are not always obvious because they are not always directly connected to us.

Reading of the suicide of a celebrity for example, or maybe the death of an old and lonely person in tragic circumstances.

We may wonder how the privileged lives of a celebrity can be given up so readily, or why nobody knew about or paid attention to the old person, But of course, we have no in-depth understanding of the situation that surrounded either.

Celebrities live a different lives to most of us and the difference is not always positive. Imagine never being able to go out in public, never having your own space to do ‘ordinary’ things, always under scrutiny in case you make a mistake or say the wrong thing, having your words and deeds taken out of proportion, even lied about?

Many people find themselves trapped in a lonely life after a gradual disintegration of their lives over many years. Imagine outliving your friends and close relatives and not noticing that your world is slowly dissolving into a lonely trap inside a house without visitors.

The most extreme situations are not seen by most of us. Whatever love and support our favourite stars enjoy, there will always be some people that set out to hurt and destroy such an easy target. The world is full of critics and in today’s world of the internet, those critics can air their views, however untrue, unkind or malicious, almost with impunity and freedom to cause the most evil impact.

Most of us have grown in a family environment and have no idea that this ‘normal’ life is not enjoyed by everyone. We are simply unaware that people could find themselves alone and unwanted!

Look a little deeper.

So, unaware of what could cause someone, anyone, to take their own life, or fail to make an effort to avoid being alone, when we witness such tragedies, we’ll have our jaw-dropping moment and then continue with our lives in much the same way as before — it doesn’t really affect us right? Well, maybe it should, maybe it’s a reminder to look deeper at some aspects of ourselves and the people we know and love, those that surround us every day, and pay them a little extra attention — to make sure we know what actually is going on inside their heads!

Ok — not everyone is contemplating drastic action, but there are varying degrees of angst and distress. Too much at the wrong time can lead to some pretty drastic feelings and who knows what actions? One man’s stress could easily be another’s Armageddon?

The inner voice with power!

Most of us fight a constant battle with our inner voice and its one that we often lose. Self-communication can drive even the most level minded of people to distraction. Sure, most of us can deal with it, albeit with varying levels of success, but imagine losing this battle every day and having to deal with a constant barrage of negative thoughts and internal discussions — at best we would feel miserable, unconfident and worthless — at worst, well, maybe even suicidal?

Just being aware can give control

Our ability to communicate effectively with ourselves and others can produce amazing results, both for ourselves and those around us. Interacting deeply with everyone we come into contact with can have massive beneficial influence. A warm smile, a kind word, genuine encouragement and compliments will improve someone’s day, even turn it from a bad and negative day into a worthwhile and positive one.

And here’s a real bombshell. It’s most often easiest to miss the signals closest to us! We can so easily take the outcomes of our interactions with those nearest to us for granted. We get lazy with our interaction and our attitudes, use careless words and actions. It’s too easy to cause deep hurt and anger to those we love the most — the very people that we depend on — and the very people that depend on us!

So, on this day, the day that you read this article, why not make a decision? Let’s make this the day that we start to take full notice of the effect we have on everyone we interact with. Let’s pay real attention to others and make maximum effort to leave every connection, every engagement, every encounter with a positive result — giving others the benefit of our best interaction, engagement and positive influence.

Above all, lets pay particular attention to the wellbeing and happiness of those we love the most. Let’s be careful with our comments, avoid holding onto ground that is unimportant, winning arguments that are meaningless. Let’s make sure we never, ever say hello without them knowing that seeing them again is the most valuable happening in our lives.

And here’s a promise. You will receive more than you will give. Smiles create smiles. Encouragement creates gratitude. Kindness creates appreciation — and love creates love!

Combined together, all of this care and attention to the wellbeing of others creates a warm internal feeling that will take over your life and give you a positive and happy place from which to create your most outstanding successes.

“Encourage everyone you meet with a smile or compliment. Make them feel better when you leave their presence and they will always be glad to see you coming”

Joyce Meyer

Will Offen is a People Skills Coach & Consultant, helping individuals and businesses towards maximum positive results from their interactions with others.