How to Be Human: Guidelines to Interact With Intention

For the past year, my parents have welcomed a fourth member into our house. His name is Betto, and Betto is in the business of beautifying homes.

I guess you could call him the Joanna Gaines of my ‘hood.

Betto works the back-breaking work many would consider beneath them—and he does a darn good job. As he’s poured his heart and soul into our house, I’ve watched my parents do the same for him: sharing meals; spending time; swapping stories about the ones they hold dear. Unknowingly, they’ve shown me that everyone is worth our time and attention.

And yet, how many times have I chosen my wants, needs, and space above those around me?

A deadly disposition to disregard

“Treating someone rudely, brusquely or condescendingly says loudly and clearly that you do not regard her as your equal” writes Alina Tugend in the New York Times. Well, I’d take that sentiment even one step further. Disregarding someone’s presence is just as, if not more, harmful.

If you look around the room at four others, chances are, one of you is unhappy and alone.

According to researcher John Cacioppo at the University of Chicago, 20 percent of all people are unhappy because of social isolation at any given moment (Seligman). I’d venture to say these are not trolls holed up in their rooms, but people who were passed by.

Even in a crowded room, we still can feel alone.

The research on social isolation is astounding. For decades now, researchers have tracked the effects of loneliness and isolation on our physical health (HowStuffWorks), and the results are telling:

  • Isolation can increase cancerous tumor growth (University of Chicago Medical Center)
  • It’s as dangerous for our health as smoking and obesity (Goleman)
  • Loneliness often leads to stress, a leading, creeping killer (HowStuffWorks)
  • It even affects us physiologically. Subjects reported feeling physically colder after a social snub. Compare that with participants surrounded by friends. This study suggests that we actually can be “iced out”, or feel social chills. (Association for Psychological Science)

Speaking of chilling, experimenters took this study even further when they tested how the lack of touch would affect babies. Babies!

The experience of being touched, new research shows, has direct and crucial effects on the growth of the body as well as the mind.
Touch is a means of communication so critical that its absence retards growth in infants, according to researchers who are for the first time determining the neurochemical effects of skin-to-skin contact.
The New York Times

From the lack of recognition to withholding physical touch, isolation is a silent killer among us.

The pitfalls of separation in a modern society

Technology is separating us as a society. Agree or disagree?

As for me, I refuse to hold onto black or white; rather, the spaces in between.

Anything can be used for bad or for good; it’s all about the intention of your choice.

Technology connects us to loved ones like never before. But it also connects us to those we’ve never met. Without looking one another in the eye, a wall of “otherness” threatens to rise.

It is this sense of superiority that Editor-in-Chief Sarah Dubbeldam illuminates in Darling Issue №15. In it, she states that the anonymity of the Internet is causing entitlement and rudeness to leak off-screen.

“We now live in a changed world, one where ‘being truly you’ is the most highly sought goal. In general, it seems as though life’s journey is not focused on serving others or becoming a person who benefits society, it’s about building your own unique island, and building it as true as you can.
The more you can be free to do whatever you want, feel, or say, the closer you are to becoming yourself. The problem is that our momentary feelings and emotions can’t always be trusted, so our ‘true self’ isn’t always considerate, isn’t always patient, isn’t always kind.
Sometimes I talk to people who say, ‘I’m brash, it’s how I am. People just need to learn to accept that.’ No, they shouldn’t have to accept it, you should learn to harness your harshness into kindness.”
-Sarah Dubbeldam, Darling Issue №15


Harnessing harshness into kindness

Where our ancestors had to lean on one another to survive, social media has erupted new divides. But social media itself is not necessarily evil. It simply exposes our greatest weaknesses, and strengths, on a grand scale.

A truer depiction of trolling, I’ve yet to find

Not only are we using this platform to pick fenced-in fights; we’re also so glued to our tech that we gloss over basic manners. If the power of life or death is in the tongue, the words we choose to utter—or withhold—can cause long-lasting damage.

And so, as one who purports to do all things with intention, I wanted to assemble this list of guidelines to remind myself how to be human—especially in times when I’d rather opt out!

How to be human: guidelines to interact with intention

  1. Acknowledge others. A basic “hello” will do just fine. If you’ve ever tried to pick up another language, greetings are the first phrases you’ll learn. Why? Language connects us all, and a greeting or salutation tells the other person, “I see you, and I acknowledge your presence.”
  2. “If you can’t say nuthin’ nice, don’t say nuthin’ at all”. Who knew childrens’ movies could carry so much wisdom? It was a bunny rabbit, after all, that taught us this valuable lesson in the Disney’s Bambi
    Think of it this way: tons of words are shared and spewed today. Yours can either add to the pollution, or help clear the smog.
  3. Speak the truth—in love. No one’s perfect. Your co-worker will make a mistake, your spouse will hurt you unintentionally, and your kid may somehow transform into a demon with the strength of an adult man (ha!). And I didn’t even cover what you’re capable of (I’m speaking as the biggest perpetrator!).
    We are all human and ergo make mistakes. But that is how we learn and grow as people. 
    Show people the same amount of grace and patience as you would want, yourself. We are all floating on this rock together, and a significant, helpful word will progress us further than a negative one.
  4. Celebrate our differences; stand up for our sameness. “Staying woke” is a common term these days, but I believe it’s an everyday thing—not just an occasional march, thing. It starts with the recognition and belief that we all are equal, cut from the same cloth but empowered to express who we are in brilliant ways. Once you grasp this truth and let it drive how you treat others, your enlightenment will spread even more light across this world. 
    And couldn’t we all use a little more light?

As electronic music duo Daft Punk put it, we are human, after all. So let’s start treating each other as such.

Every massive change, every bout of progress we deem worth fighting for starts with the basic principle of treating others as we, ourselves, would want to be treated.

So, please—pull up a chair at my table for two. As my parents showed me with Betto, I may not have much, but I do have the time and attention for you.