I like to listen.
I have learned a great deal from listening carefully.
Most people never listen.
Our ability to listen informs our ability to learn, grow, and thrive.
The type of listening Hemingway notes here; active, careful listening, involves more than hearing and interpreting words.
Listening is how we process feedback, and not all feedback is proceesed by your ears.
You listen to your body when it’s thirsty and to the road through the touch of your steering wheel just as you would listen to a loved one tell you about their day.
Listening is how we interpret information; turning the inputs of our world into understandings we can act upon.
The world and the people we share it with present a near limitless array of potential inputs.
Advertisers alone ensure that we consume tens of thousands every day.
Where you decide to apply your attention will determine which of those inputs shape you, your thoughts and your wellbeing.
In a world so saturated by inputs fighting for the precious space in your mind, listening carefully is the only way to register some of the most important inputs which would otherwise be lost to our periphery;
The way a troubled friend sighs as they tell you they’re ‘fine’.
The way your little cousin taps their foot when he fibs.
Or the split second raise in the smile of your partner when you tell a bad joke they don’t want to laugh at.
If we’re not mindful, these things, the richest parts of our existence, might pass us by.
Careful listening = Paying generous attention
In this way, your attention is even more valuable than your time.
Invest it poorly, and you risk leading a meaningless existence. You could live for a millennia this way and get less out of life than someone who invested well for just a year.
Invest your attention with generosity, empathy, and joy. Succeed in this, and you’ll find it hard to life miserably.
Investing wisely requires you to share your attention only with people who matter, and to share it fully.
When these people share their own attention in return, cherish it. It’s a beautiful gift to receive.
Perhaps most importantly, beware the vices of those who are more interested in leeching your attention than sharing it with you.
Sadly, as Hemingway notes, this is most people.
Listen, pay generous attention, and encourage those around you to do the same.
But if they prove unable, walk away.
We can’t afford to spread our most valuable asset too thin.
You don’t have enough to waste on those with those unwilling to invest their own wisely beside you.