In hot yoga the other day, an instructor shared the benefits of one of my favorite poses or postures–the triangle. The triangle can be challenging and increase your heart rate. If you concentrate on how it makes you feel in the moment verses the benefits, you can talk yourself into a savasana rest, which is entirely okay, too (no judgment in our practice).
This focus created a great awareness of how we often concentrate on our discomfort without examining the benefits that we may not see or feel right away. My youngest daughter had exams last week. Exams are challenging and create great discomfort emotionally, physically, and intellectually. She worked hard to turn her attitude around. Below is one of the benefits from her discomfort– a comparison of two books she read in her English class. This paper showed all of us her inward thoughts and struggles, and the work opened up dialogue that was rich with understanding of human struggle and empathy. She has an amazing English teacher this year. She is so ready to help and support in their journey. We are truly grateful for her teachers!
Nowadays we live and travel in a world where our journey is all about us. We don’t stop
to look around us to see other people, we don’t take a second to simply engage in a short
conversation. We would see that we aren’t the only ones struggling and that someone else
probably has a worse situation than we do. In the Humans of New York: Stories, Brandon Stanton
has taken the opportunity to help people feel more connected and know more about the strangers
that we pass by everyday.
He will go up to people in New York and ask them a series of
interview questions and take their picture. He then comprised a book to help people gather a
better understanding for humanity. Humans of New York: Stories was more successful than
The Alchemist in illuminating a person’s story and highlighting them as an individual because it’s a
real story to relate and empathize with, it’s quick and to the point with each picture, and you don’t
have to search for the message and deeply analyze it.
The most powerful element to the Humans of New York: Stories is the fact that it’s real
people talking about their real lives and life’s problems. When it’s a real encounter it’s easier for
someone to empathize with rather than a fictional story that someone just creates in their mind.
“You know that your child can grow to be happy, independent, and fall in love. I’d trade
anything for that knowledge…” (Humans of New York Stories, pg. 148)
When we read something with that heavy of emotion it makes us realize that we can sometimes take our lives for granted.
That person is able to give us that sense of realization we didn’t know we needed, because they
chose to become vulnerable and share their life. The man in this specific story looks like he just
came out of a business meeting. He has a nice three piece suit on and seems like he could be an
important person within a company. When we see someone like this our minds automatically
think that the rest of their life must be perfect, but once the reader reads this story, the reader
understands that this person’s life isn’t perfect at all.
“Everyone is needy, and when you have a special-needs child, it’s hard to give everyone the attention they deserve.”
(Humans of New York: Stories, pg. 149)
When you read these stories each of them are barely over a page long and all of them
have pictures attached to the story. The pictures help the reader better connect to what they’re
reading because they see the person who’s talking about their hardships or accomplishments. The
person in the stories mainly give an overview of an aspect of their life they’re willing to share.
This helps the reader get the main idea without having to deeply analyze. In these stories
sometimes even a short phrase can make you understand what this person is trying to convey.
“We started to worry that Jackson might never progress.” (Humans of New York: Stories, pg. 148)
When the reader reads this they begin to understand that this man and his wife knew that there
was something going on and that it wasn’t simply due to “boys develop later”. We then start to
empathize and wonder what they must have felt in that moment, and we want to know their
feelings and thoughts. All of these questions are formulating in our minds just because of a 9
This certain story about a dad with a son named Jackson really makes you stop and think.
Within the three minutes it takes the reader to read what he shared the reader can see how much
he grew. He goes from talking about how he didn’t know much about autism and how to care for
a child who deals with that to saying how him and his wife are raising awareness and donating to
‘What was the hardest part about raising a child with autism?’
‘Not being sure if your child loves you.’
‘Do you know now?’
‘I know that he understands he is important to us.’
(Humans of New York; Stories, pg. 150)
That is the closure to the message in the story, and the reader reached it without having to analyze every paragraph and reading 300 pages.
“As you wander around, carry this spoon with you without allowing the oil to spill.”
(The Alchemist, pg. 34)
In this part of The Alchemist a king tries to teach Santiago a lesson. When the
reader first reads this, the lesson is not going to come right away. It takes multiple of these short
lessons and analyzing for the reader to reach the end of the book and fully understand what it all
means and what the overall lesson is.
When we’re kids we read a lot of fables and fairy tales that teach us lessons and morals
that are supposed to help us. As we become older those fairy tales and fables don’t seem to work
anymore, because we’ve grown to know what the real world is like. That being said, a book that
shares real stories from real people in the real world helps us better connect to everyone around
us, and helps us see that we’re all humans and we all have complicated lives. We can’t have as
big of a connection to a fable because it’s not real. Brandon Stanton’s Humans of New York:
Stories did a wonderful job capturing these images and sharing people’s difficulties,
accomplishments, and simply happy and proud moments. Therefore, it successfully fulfills the
intent of helping us feeling connected and having empathy for one another.
18 December, 2019