Why You Should Look for Similarities Instead of Differences
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about a vacation my family and I took to Punta Cana. Even though the trip was months ago, I can’t get it out of my head thanks to an amazing encounter I had. It was a simple, yet truly profound moment of connection.
I was taking my morning run along the beach one morning, and I passed a Dominican woman about my age. She was dressed in older clothes, and I guessed that, like a lot of the locals, she was working the beach, trying to earn money by braiding hair, giving massages, or selling shells.
Sure enough, she hollered at me, asking if I wanted a massage later. I imagine many—maybe most—tourists simply brush her off. But for some reason, I felt compelled to stop and speak with her.
She barely spoke English. Yet, we were able to have an amazingly heartfelt conversation. We spoke woman-to-woman, heart-to-heart and were able to understand each other on a very special level.
I asked her about her family, and she held up four fingers, indicating she had four children. I indicated back to her that I had four children, too. We tried to communicate their ages and were having a little trouble. But then she picked up a stick and wrote in the sand: 21, 19, 17, 9. I took the stick and wrote 31, 24, 21, 16.
We laughed together, held our hands over our hearts, and talked of the love we have for our children.
It was such a profound moment for me. There we were, two 40-something women from completely different cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds, discovering that we were more alike than different.
Somehow, we communicated just enough to understand that we both share a deep love for our children, that there is no greater love. We mimed holding little babies, wiping our tears away—and we understood that we both have a hard time watching our youngest grow up.
So, maybe the secret to happiness is in human connection, in loving one another. Society at large spends so much time focusing on what makes this person different from that one, that we completely overlook the common threads and wonderfully random similarities that exist—if only you take a moment to look for them.
I took a moment, and I discovered a kindred spirit on a beach far away from home. I made a strong connection with another woman, one not so different from me when it came down to the core of our being.
I urge you to take your own moment to look for similarities, rather than differences. I guarantee you’ll walk away changed from the connections you make. I know I did.
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Question: Have you ever had an experience with someone in which you were brought together by surprising similarities? What did you discover about yourself and this other person? And what kind of impact did the experience have on you? Share in the comments below.