Happy Sunday you wonderful human!

Happy Sunday, you wonderful human!Palmer here!

I’m writing this at 3am because jet lag is not taking it easy on me 😅 and I can’t get this one thought out of my head. You may know but my mom and I, along with our spouses, were just in Japan to speak at the International Family Therapy Association’s annual conference and it was such a great experience. Not just because of the conference but because we got some extra time to explore Japan and do what we could to soak up the culture.

I may have gotten carried away with trying to travel from a cultural lens because one of the places I booked us in the town Onomichi involved climbing 350 steps with your bags to a 150 year old temple converted to a hostel where we slept on tatami (bamboo) floor mats all together in one big room. The family ended up loving it but it was a bit bold. And I’ve gotta give a nod to my mom for wanting to lug her suitcase up all those stairs! (She told me to add that part. 😉)

But that isn’t what I’m eager to share with you. It was the sense of community and oneness that we felt. Whether it was the touristy areas like Tokyo and Kyoto or smaller cities like Onomichi and Toyama, people made such an effort to acknowledge and welcome each other. When we walked into a restaurant, every employee would shout a greeting and either smile or give a small bow. When we walked past someone on a quieter street, they always would acknowledge the others around them. It was intentional, connecting, and we could feel it. I do know that you feel a difference when nearly everyone in a society makes an effort to acknowledge others. There are a few ways I think this idea of acknowledging another’s presence can be woven into our everyday: 

  • When we see our family members after really any time apart to make a point to acknowledge them and their presence because of how special is it to get that moment with a person you love and care for.
  • Make the effort to acknowledge people beyond our circle of friends and family. Whether it’s someone at the gas station, grocery store, workplace, DMV, or pick up line to take that half a second to acknowledge them through a wave, “hey,” nod of the head… your choice.
  • I think that it’s so easy for us to end up with our heads down as we go through the world. However, I hope that as a society, regardless of someone’s demographic, that we can create a sense of acknowledgment and connection. Whether someone’s bumper sticker, t-shirt, hat, type of car, or anything else about them signifies beliefs that you fundamentally disagree with; I encourage you to give them that nod or wave. I see no benefit to creating more distance between each other and only upside of building the habit of acknowledgment and awareness of everyone.

In addition to “hey,” the hug with your kid, the wave, nod, etc. with strangers, include a tiny pause to bring a sense of awareness to yourself that you just encountered a human being with an entire life’s worth of emotions and experiences and the blessing that is.Sometimes I take this too far when I’m on a walk and before I realize what I am doing, I am waving to people in their houses who I thought were looking at me 😅. My wife thinks that’s too much and she might be right; honestly that one is still TBD so if you have a vote please let me know.Have a great rest of your Sunday! 🙂

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Palmer Skudneski
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