We have all heard the saying that the eyes are the window to the soul, and not a truer statement has been spoken. When you look into any pair of eyes, and I mean really look, you will find out more about a person than what they actually may tell you. I am on a mission at the moment to look into as many eyes as I can, because I want to have more empathy for and understanding about people. It is amazing what you will get from the eyes of a stranger.

This mission, and blog were inspired by Chris Freer, my guest on my podcast this week, called Saved by compassion. Chris had got to the point in his life, experiencing daily pain and symptoms from Multiple Sclerosis, and going through divorce, where he decided that suicide was his only option to end the pain. His plan was to throw himself under a lorry on a busy roadway in Essex, UK. Just as he had selected the lorry and stepped onto the motorway, he caught a glimpse of the drivers’ eyes, and hesitated. He started thinking about the impact of his decision on the life of that lorry driver. He pulled himself back enough to save his life and incur only minor injuries, as he glanced off the side of the lorry.

Chris explained that it was the compassion he felt for the lorry driver, after looking into the eyes of a stranger, that saved his life. On that day, the old Chris died, and the new one reborn. That’s all I am going to tell you. You will need to listen to the podcast to get the full and amazing story. Since that conversation with Chris, I have been compelled to do more than just co-exist with other people, and actually connect with them through a look and a smile. It is amazing what happens when you look into the eyes of a stranger.

I am grateful to have done some amazing travel and speaking this week. On Tuesday morning, I was on a flight to Perth when mother nature called. As I was sitting with my pants down in a cramped airplane toilet, we hit some turbulence. Over the PA, the instructions came to return to seats and fasten seatbelts. There were no seatbelts in the toilet, and I was only half finished my important task, so, I was going nowhere in a hurry. All of a sudden, there was a knock on the toilet door. I ignored it. Thirty seconds later, another knock. There was nothing I could do about it. Fifteen seconds later, another knock, this time more forcefully. I still couldn’t do anything.

I finally finished my business, with the knocking continuing, cleaned myself up and finally opened the door. Waiting outside the door was a very impatient flight attendant directing me to get back to my seat. I was tempted to let her have it, but I didn’t. Instead, I looked into her eyes and actually saw someone who was concerned about my welfare. Of course, she was just following safety procedures of the airline, but mostly I could tell, from her eyes, she wanted to make sure I was okay. In that moment, all anger disappeared, and gratitude took its place.

Behind every single pair of eyes on the planet is a mind that is thinking about stuff. These thoughts are about tasks needing to be completed, loved ones that need to be supported, challenges that need to be overcome, people that need to be helped, and great things that need to be accomplished. Every one of those thoughts will be reflected in those eyes. Every person has a life to live. Every person is doing the best they can. Every person has a desire to feel loved, heard, appreciated, and important. Just look into the eyes of the next stranger you meet, and you will see it for yourself.

My mission now is to look into the eyes of as many strangers as I can and try to see what is going on for them in that moment. Then, respond accordingly with; a smile, a comment, a word of encouragement, a request to help, or a compliment.  I will get back to you with the results of my mission and let you know what has happened for me. In the meantime, can I encourage you to take the time, in your full life, to look into the eyes of a stranger today?