“We shall not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started… and know the place for the first time.” ~T.S. Eliot

Deeply contained between the heart and mind of every soul lies an entire world.

Like the uniqueness of each man and woman, every world is completely unique: this world contains a history of knowledge and experiences, personal interactions and relationships, suffering and depression as well as wonderful thrills, love, and happiness.

The world resides within the confines of our minds. It is our consciousness. It is our personality. It is our ego, our sense of self, who we perceive ourselves to be and how we believe others view us. It is our story, our perspective, everything that has made us who we are, what we now do, and what we desire or wish to never become.

Within you is an entire world.

No different than our planetary home, Earth, there are vast tracts of our inner selves that remain undiscovered — or otherwise, merely unexplored. By our individual choice and our choice alone, we can choose to explore our own world. As so-called “renegades,” we choose to engage in deep contemplation and introspection — efforts of self-improvement and personal development — that intent to combat negative and destructive emotions and actions, while practicing and nurturing greater senses of goodness, compassion, and love that reap happiness for ourselves and for others around us.

Within others are entire worlds.

But life is much less about ourselves than it is about others. While we can, and should, do as much as we can to become better men and women for the sake of living an infinitely happier life and bettering the lives of those around us, we need to always remember that life is about others. Life is about connections: deep, meaningful connections through friendships and relationships and ordinary interactions with those who live around and among us.

Just as much as we each possess a rich world of experiences and offerings within us, others around us possess a world as well. The worlds of others offer the chance to learn and to grow — and especially to grow closer to that person.

A 6-Step Process

Becoming what I call a “spiritual explorer” begins with the desire and motivation to learn about the lives and the worlds of others. Exploring the world of another human being is much less about psychologically analyzing or critiquing them; the goal is not to diagnose their behaviors and issues as if we indisputably possess all the answers. Hardly. To become a spiritual explorer is about seeking to overcome ordinary and mundane superficiality in our human relationships and create genuine and compassionate interactions. The process is as easy as these six steps:

1. Talk Less About Yourself

Few people like to hear someone ramble nonsensically about themselves. The point of conversation is to engage another human being. Of course, it’s perfectly fine to discuss your thoughts and opinions over the course of conversation. But when you intently try to talk less about yourself, you are becoming a spiritual explorer because you are inviting the world of the other human being on the other side of the conversation to emerge.

2. Ask Questions

The second step is to ask questions of the other person. When you ask meaningful questions of that other person, you begin to build a bridge of compassion: letting him or her know that you’re not just talking for the sake of talking, but that you genuinely care. Exhibits of compassion and care help forge bridges of understanding and trust between you.

3. Deeply, Intently Listen.

Don’t just listen. Really, truly listen. Deeply reflect upon his or her words, their tone, the pitch and inflection and emotion in their voice. What is he or she really saying when they talk to you? What about their world are they revealing? What do you truly hear?

4. Ask More Meaningful Questions

Ordinary questions help build a bridge of conversation and trust between you and the other person. But those ordinary questions, combined with your deep listening, will naturally spark subsequent follow-up questions that will be much more meaningful. For example, what was once “So where are you from?” may become “What was it like for you and your family growing up there?” Or, perhaps, “What do your parents do for a living” might become “How did their divorce influence your decision to … ?”

5. Embody Positivity

The Buddhists say, “life is suffering.” To many degrees this is true: everybody in the world experiences sadness and suffering to varying degrees and at various points in their lives. You are no different. The man or woman on the other side of your conversation is no different. He or she has suffered. If the choice is yours to make (remember, it always is), would you not strive to embody positivity, encouragement, motivation, and inspiration to help alleviate some of his/her suffering and sincerely help them?

6. Be Compassion

Don’t just be compassionate: be compassion. To embody compassion is so simple and it’s impact can be monumental for a soul in need. In as little as telling someone “I am here for you,” or “Whenever you need to talk,” or “You can count on me to be there for you,” can really mean a lot to someone whom you wish to grow closer. And, when instinct takes over and compels you to follow up your offers with, “No, I really mean that,” then you know you are certainly upon the path of creating a genuine and compassionate interaction with another human being — a completely unique soul who has an entire world to share from within.