Talk with the Doc: Practice the art of listening

Dr. Jim Surrell, Journal columnist


One of my favorite inspirational authors is Mr. Wilferd Peterson. Mr. Peterson was born in Whitehall, Michigan. In the past, he wrote many inspiring columns for Sunday newspapers and his columns always addressed the subject he called: “The Art of Living”. Subsequently, in the year 1960, he published his international best-selling book entitled, “The Art of Living – Thoughts on Meeting the Challenge of Life”. All of his writings on these various subjects were limited to just 1 or 2 pages that, in my opinion, truly deliver a great message for all of us to learn from.

One of my very favorite brief chapters in Mr. Peterson’s book is entitled “The Art of Listening”. Here are several quotes from his writing on the subject of listening.

“Listen to the good. Tune your ears to love, hope, and courage. Tune out gossip, fear, and resentment.”

“Listen for growth. Be an inquisitive listener. Ask questions. Everyone has something to say which will help you to grow.”

“Listen to yourself. Listen to your deepest yearnings, your highest aspirations, your noblest impulses. Listen to the better person within you.”

As noted in Mr. Peterson’s last quote above, I strongly encourage all of us to listen to our “inner self”, which is generally referred to as “self-talk”. Self-talk is done by all of us, and it very important to always remember that we choose our own self-talk. Self-talk is our personal choice, and it is very, very important that we choose positive, and not negative self-talk. Of course, we will always listen to our own self-talk, so make the choice to listen to your own positive and uplifting self-talk. Do not pick on yourself, and focus only on positive self-talk. Further, always remember that we can choose never to listen to any negative talk that others may say to us. So, also use your listening skills to listen to and accept any positive comments, and choose not to listen to, or accept any negative comments directed to you.

As you know, personal communication is a two way street of speaking and listening, and is the key to success in various situations we all face on a daily basis. Listening is perhaps especially important when we are communicating with our spouse, our children, our siblings, other family members, and with any “significant others” we may have in our life. Of course, it is also essential to learn and practice good listening skills at work, in school, and with our friends. Bottom line – How well we truly get along with our family and friends, our co-workers, and others is often dependent on how well we practice our own good listening habits.

Let me close with a previous quote with a great message about listening from Larry King. “I remind myself every morning: Nothing I say this day will teach me anything. So if I’m going to learn, I must do it by listening.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: Dr. Jim Surrell is the author of the best-selling SOS (Stop Only Sugar) Diet book and his new Joke Book, entitled “Laughter Is Good Medicine.” Dr. Jim’s website is sosdietbook.com.


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