Happiness Means Looking Beyond the Body and Seeing the Person

Thursday, July 16, 2015 · 8 Comments

As soon as we open up our eyes in the morning, stories are running in our minds that influence the way we see people. We have preconceptions about who our wife, husband, kid, roommate or partners are. When we walk out the door, we already have ideas about who the neighbors, baristas, grocery store clerk, colleagues, and even strangers who are walking up the street are. We are wired to sum up whether someone is beautiful simply upon a surface glance of their body.

So the question is: Do we actually even see the person behind our conceptions of who they are? Most of the time the answer is a resounding no.

Mother Teresa said, “The biggest disease today is not leprosy or tuberculosis but rather the feeling of not belonging.”

We live on auto-pilot in our every day relationships and our ability to automatically interpret the world can lead to disconnection, dis-ease and unhappiness in life.

It’s that simple.

Here is a four step practice to try out today with anyone you come in contact with to help your eyes look beyond the body and see the person. As we intentionally practice and repeat looking beyond the body, we create connection which is an essential ingredient for a more enduring happiness.

  1. Put you lenses of judgment aside. Whether you believe it or not, you instantly judge someone as soon as you see them. It may be the color of their skin, their ethnicity, a memory you have of this person or maybe the expression on their face. See if you can set that aside for a moment and adopt fresh eyes.
  2. See the person. This is someone who has a history of adventures, sense of failure, loves, fears, regrets, triumphs, traumas, family, and friends. They have a beauty inside that they likely aren’t even aware of.
  3. Ask yourself, what does this person most deeply want? The answer is likely within you and it has something to do with being treated kindly and feeling a sense of belonging.
  4. Provide a gesture that feeds this need. Smile at the person; ask them if you can help; listen to what they have to say; if its family or friends, tell them you love them, etc. There are so many ways to do this.
    We can always ask ourselves if what we are doing is in service of connection or disconnection. It’s a simple question that can sometimes lead to important answers and actions.

The fact is, when we or others around us feel understood and cared about, a sense of acceptance and belonging arises. This breaks down a barriers and simply makes relationships better. Like anything, this takes practice.

A moment of connection may have rippling effects across many people, like a pebble thrown into the water creates ripples of waves.

Give it a try!

As always, please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interaction provides a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.

Adapted from Mindfulness and Psychotherapy


  1. Maureen Bakis
    October 8, 2015 at 12:36 pm

    As a high school teacher, it is crucial that I implement these 4 practices to nurture a safe space of belonging for my students. Only then, in such an environment, can authentic learning happen.

  2. Elizabeth
    July 17, 2015 at 9:03 am

    This was beautiful. If we could do this all the time- wow-the world would be a much better place!

  3. July 17, 2015 at 8:46 am

    Your article reminded me of a post I made on my smiley art and inspiration page.

    I invite you to read a blog I wrote on being mindful under Empowerment at the smileyholisticmedicine blog.

    Will you extend permission to share some, or all of what you wrote, and provide a link to your book?

    Thank you for the work you are doing.
    Kathy Smiley

    • September 16, 2015 at 2:37 pm

      Absolutely Kathy, the more the merrier :).

  4. shannon
    July 17, 2015 at 7:26 am

    Thank you – I needed this today as I am about to meet with a difficult person that I have trouble dealing with. I need to remember that he is a soul that has needs and how I can best meet those to “take the edge” off our conversation. My first response is always to either tune him out or argue – he is so infuriating with bombastic speeches and really a “know-it-all”. I must be aware of my emotions and reactions and try to treat him with the loving kindness I wish he held for me.

    Thank you!

  5. Dianne
    July 17, 2015 at 7:02 am

    I would love to connect more with people daily. I feel most people are withholding their true essence in a wall of privacy. Maybe they have something to be afraid of by letting others in. I know I do. Without real intimate connections, I feel alone, very alone.
    I am a widow and have discovered no one that really wants a committed relationship. I admire and envy those couples that have one another to count on and share life with. Girl friends are good, but they don’t cross over into the kind of relationship that I had with my husband.
    Reaching out is scarey and full of fear of rejection once more. How can I be free and happy ALONE?

  6. Cathy Skubic
    July 17, 2015 at 6:39 am

    Such a beautiful, truthful reflection! What a different world it would be at work, church, or anywhere else we are in contact with others if we remembered to follow this practice! Thank you!

  7. Glend
    July 17, 2015 at 6:15 am

    I especially appreciated the idea of trying to find out what a person needs

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