This past weekend Freddie & I began shooting episodes for our new podcast: The Freddie & Alyssa Show. I am crazy excited to bring some of these beautiful guests your way (the premiere will be Tuesday, April 24th)!

As our world continues to grow with social media, we have unlimited access to other views, ways of life & overall general opinions that may not always align with our own. We have an abundance of knowledge available at our fingertips…what we do with it is pivotal.

During filming this weekend, I realized one incredible life tip that sitting there podcasting taught me: with the infinite access to knowledge, we must do something easy to do but also easy not to do - open our minds and listen. 

Speaking with different guests allowed me to do just that: sit there with an open mind and just listen. That is the beauty of a podcast. It is all based on the concept of fueling your mind by LISTENING. A practice many of us do not utilize enough in our daily lives.

By listening it allows us to learn and grow from others stories and life experiences. By learning, it will enable us to empathize and by empathizing it makes it much easier to co-exist peacefully amongst one another.

Because let’s be real - everyone in this world is never going to have the same opinion. You might be thinking of a co-worker or family member right now that you don't see eye to eye with and I guarantee you a big part of that includes not genuinely listening or empathizing with the other.

A lot of individuals listen not with the intent to understand but with the intent to reply. That is a HUGE problem. So how can we fix this? How can we actively work to be better and make our environment everything that it should be? Practice empathy. By understanding empathy (the ability to understand and share the feelings of another), it will allow you to step into another’s shoes and better understand where he/she is coming from. Understanding will help you to respect each other's differences.


How To Practice Empathy:

1. You guessed it, listen. Listen intently when someone speaks to you. I want you to think about the last time you were in a heated debate with someone. Chances are you probably were not listening intently to them. Any time they opened their mouth to speak you were perhaps formulating your next rebuttal ready to make your point. The next time you are in a situation or conversation such as this, slow down. Force yourself to listen to what they are saying. Ask questions to understand better why they have this belief/worldview. 

2. Stop and take a look around you. When you are waiting for your coffee, in line at the grocery store or even in the elevator, I dare you not to take your phone out and check Instagram or Facebook. Instead, observe the people around you. Imagine who they may be and what they could be thinking. Are they happy? Sad? Frustrated? Looking at their phones? Where might they live? Legitimately wonder and care. This is one of my FAVORITE activities. I could go and sit at a coffee shop and people watch all day long. No matter how long you sit and do it, if you ever lock eyes with someone, always lead with this easy action: smile. 

3. Practice the Debating with Knives exercise. The actual exercise is based on two groups sitting on separate sides of a long table. Individuals sitting on one side of the table would have to support the motion while the others had to oppose it. At any given time, any participant could stand up and walk to the other side of the table and tap someone on the shoulder. These two individuals would then swap places, having to switch their arguments from the viewpoints they had just been arguing for. 

The result was to be able to argue both sides of a position and understand that very few things are black and white. It is nice to see and acknowledge opposing points of views and explore the grey area. 

Back when I was in ninth grade, our English class was reading Medea. In the novel, Medea kills her brother and sons. My teacher chose a similar exercise to Debating with Knives and had us put on a mock trial. First, she had a handful of students act as prosecutors and explain why we were against Medea. After I acted as a prosecutor, my teacher yelled out my name and said, “Alyssa, quick! You are now Medea. Plead your case as to why you are not guilty.”

“Whaaat!?” I thought to myself. “Think quick, Alyssa. Think quick.” I quickly imagined in my mind that I was Medea and I questioned, “Why would you do this? What is going on in your life?” I instantly spit out, “INSANITY! I PLEAD INSANITY!”

I didn’t quite win that case but it was a valuable lesson in understanding and looking at situations from both sides. Obviously, an experience that has stuck with me all of these years!

So today may you practice your own Medea exercise, see every POV, listen to others & stop and observe the world.