"Think globally but act locally. When my friends and pupils who want to help ask me what they should do, I always say the same thing: follow your heartbreak. Determine which one of all the causes in the world really breaks your heart. When you identify this, you have found the cause you will always have the energy and passion to work for. Once you have identified this cause, act immediately in your local community, so your heartbreak doesn't remain abstract but becomes a living force of practical compassion in your daily world." —Andrew Harvey, The Hope: A Guide to Sacred Activism I'm no activist. In my mind, activists hold up signs, stand in picket lines, and yell out slogans. Activists travel to impoverished places and go for days without showers. I've never held up a sign, stood in a picket line, or yelled out a slogan. While I have traveled to impoverished places, it has been as a tourist with a guide leading the way. And truth be told, the thought of going days without a shower unhinges me. Yet, I can readily identify which one of all the causes in the world most breaks my heart. It's seeing parents gazing into their screens rather than into their child's eyes, entire families at the dinner table tethered to their devices, or two people walking side-by-side talking on their phones rather than to each other. What really breaks my heart is that we are no longer present to those who are in our presence. Yet there are notable exceptions. I'd love for you to meet my friend Natalie, a college student, who aspires to change the world one person at a time. When her mother asked Natalie why her new tattoo says "one person every day" she said it reminds her that while she can't eliminate poverty or eradicate all racial injustices in her lifetime, she can be present to one person each day by listening deeply to them. While I'm not planning on getting a tattoo any time soon, Natalie's approach to activism shows me that maybe I am an activist after all. You see, the main reason I offer retreats and presentations on the art of deep listening is that I firmly believe we can transform our world through deeply listening. We live in a world where so many people are hurting. Yet, few of us showcase our struggles on our Facebook page, so where do we go to tend our hearts' deepest truths? Ideally, if Natalie and I have our way, we can turn to one another. Turning To One Another One of my favorite stories to illustrate is about Grace, (not her actual name), a woman I met at a social gathering. It was evident to me that Grace was hurting. She had just lost her father, and she told me that she was the invisible child in her family. As she spoke, I noticed how she barely paused to take a breath. She seemed to be reciting a rehearsed, and all too familiar, litany of complaints about each of her family members' treatment of her. All the while, I did my best to practice deep listening with the "ear of my heart." When she finally paused to take a long sip of her wine, I asked, "What if a magic genie suddenly appeared and you were given three wishes for your relationship with your family, what would you wish for?" In asking this, I hoped that my question would invite her to pause and listen to what was going on within her heart. I was relieved that Grace seemed intrigued by the question rather than irritated by it. For the first time in our entire exchange, she paused before she responded. Grace began to speak. Her tone shifted. Instead of ranting about all the things she wanted family members to stop doing (for example: stop drinking so much, stop taking her for granted, stop ignoring her), she began to describe what she hoped they would do (for example: live healthy lives, convey their appreciation of her, and spend more time with her). Rather than offer an automatic, rehearsed response to my question, she took the time to listen within—and speak from—her heart of hearts. Deep listening challenges us to go beyond the active listening so many of us have been taught (that is, to paraphrase back the content and feelings we hear someone expressing). For example, by using an active listening stance I could have said to Grace, "So I hear you saying that you believe your family has mistreated you (content) and you are feeling angry (feelings)." In so doing, I would have demonstrated to Grace that I was in fact paying attention to what she had told me. Yet, I don't know that it would have helped her to identify she most needed, wanted, or valued in the present moment: restoring connection with her family members. I invite you to give it a try. Take up Natalie's challenge to listen deeply to one person this day. It may be a coworker, a family member, or someone with whom you've never spoken before. Listen to them attentively without comment, interruption, or interjection. And as you do, listen with the "ear of your heart" for a question you might offer this person to help them discover and articulate what they most need, want or value. Hello. My name is Diane. I am an activist. My cause is cultivating attentive presence through the art of listening deeply to the conversation in our own, and others', hearts. Diane M. Millis, PhD, is the author of two books: Deepening Engagement and Conversation—The Sacred Art. She is an inspirational speaker and retreat facilitator whose mission is to help participants develop authentic, attentive connections in an age of distraction. To learn more, visit www.dianemillis.com. Learn more about the retreats presented at the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation's Dan Anderson Renewal Center.