"Surround yourself with people who talk about visions and ideas. Not people." — Unknown
I've seen the above words in my news feed on several occasions. And each time I see it my heart explodes with a giant "YES!"
If any of you have ever been in an environment where the main topic of conversation is other people and the lives they lead, you get me when I say how exhausting and depressing it can be.
You know how it is. You are at work or in the checkout in the line at the store, or even at church, and you hear people talking in hushed voices, with a hint of malice in them, the kind of hushed voices that tell you this conversation isn't for your ears, because maybe it's about you, or someone you care about.
I've been in both environments and I can truly say those that talk about visions and ideas are so much more life-giving than the other.
I've never understood when there is so much in this world to discover, why people seek the lowest common denominator in their discourse through gossip.
First, it's boring.
Second, it casts scorn on someone whom you may once have seen in a positive light. Now that you have heard these negative words about them — words that quite possibly aren't even true, how likely are you to forget it, and how likely are you going to be able to see that person again in the same way?
Third, I hate to say it, but it doesn't say much about you either if the most you can come up with is what is going on in Jane Doe's life, or how she is handling her current troubles — most of which you truly know nothing about.
And lastly, it truly creates a ripple effect. Once those words project out of your mouth, there is no way to stop the negative consequences on your own life and the life of the one about whom you are talking.
And just so you know, no matter how you think otherwise, gossip is never a secret. It always, always effects the person or people you talk about and their loved ones.
Sharing conversations about ideas and visions, on the other hand, is the gift that keeps on giving. Instead of shrinking your life, it expands it into new territory and possibilities.
One thing I appreciate about working with my newsroom colleagues is that most idle talk — if there is any — centers around ideas and possibilities and so on and not the lives of people inside or outside the department.
Like the time we took a poll over who was a cat person and who was a dog person.
Just checking to see if you were paying attention.
Talking about matters of substance is truly challenging to the brain, in a way gossip never can or will be.
What are you going to choose to talk about, and more importantly, what will the topics you choose to talk about say about you as a human being?
- SPIRIT MATTERS is a weekly column that examines spirituality in The Times' readership area. Contact Jerrilyn Zavada at firstname.lastname@example.org to share how you engage your spirit in your life and community.