Lorene Wilk shares about her volunteer work, the question she asks people when she wants to learn about them, and why connecting with people makes her happy.
Loirene is a landscape design consultant in San Francisco.
- When Lorene Wilk is a landscape design consultant in San Francisco. She said that when she meets someone and she is interested in that person, she asks them “if you are with a partner, what are three things that you can’t live without”; that’s her go-to question to get to know a person. She first thought about it at dinner with a glass of wine, and everyone around the table wanted to give their answers. She says she gets the most curious answers to that question, and adds that physical attributes are excluded. She doesn’t do it immediately, she first reads the person to see if it’s the right question.
- Lorene’s initial answer to what makes her happy is connecting with another person. She doesn’t have to know the person to have a sense of connection.
- Lorene looks for vulnerability and openness. She says that as a child you think that many things are true, but as you grow up you realize that not everything is real; people put up facades and walls. Lorene has learned to read people and look behind those barriers, and she can see it easily.
- When she first walks in a room, Lorene wants to learn about a person and talk to them. If the person gives superficial answers, she won’t be rude, but she won’t try to connect with them that night unless she finds something she’s interested in. Lorene believes everything is about response and she can read people easily.
- When she can connect with a person, Lorene feels she is a part of something. We all want to be a part of something, whether at work, or through volunteer services, we all want to belong to a tribe. So when people let her in, Lorene gets a great feeling.
- Lorene learned this skill through disappointment earlier in her life when people would open the door and she wouldn’t find that connection. She thinks we are hypersensitive to other people’s feelings; when people are rough it often means they are protecting themselves but they are softer inside. No one wants to feel rejected.
Happiness is making people feel safe and vulnerable. The sense of connection goes both ways: happiness means connecting with others as well as helping them connect.
- Lorene is generally curious, which comes from her very curious father. Lorene finds that people talk a lot but don’t ask a lot. Lorene advice her daughters that if they go on a date and they are asking all the questions but not getting asked anything, send the guy to the curb. It’s important for Lorene to pass her interest in people to her daughters.
- People who stop to care and wonder, are the people who we tend to be attracted to. In order to be happy and having a true connection, people have to be interested in you and you in them; it can’t be a one-way street.
Some people are the cultivators and take care of others, but if that’s always a one-way street the cultivator can get resentful. It doesn’t have tit-for-tat, it just has to be balanced.
- Lorene has worked with people in different capacities—from volunteering to her landscape consultation—and every time she is herself. Volunteering, making time for others, and feeling their thankfulness is the most gratifying connection.
- We all live in a stressful world with more pressure and needing to be accessible 24/7 which can be overwhelming, and we lose contact, we lose warmth. We live so much in the cyber world that we miss that connection.
Some people have a predisposition to being happier, but we all have the ability to decide to be happy. Lorene tells her girls to make a daily effort to smile at someone, or hold a door for someone, anything to connect. If she needs a push, she takes an action.
- Lorene has always been excited to wake up and start her day. She doesn’t sleep a lot, so that also helps her embrace the day.
- Lorene has a message on her desk, “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude” (Maya Angelou). Changing your attitude towards daily circumstances can be a good way to patch the day.
Lorene’s grew up in a household full of appreciation. She attributes it to being the child of Holocaust survivors
Kindness brings Lorene a lot of joy. It’s one of the top three things she can’t live without.
- In an ideal day, Lorene would like quality time, connecting in person. She’d like to surround herself in a calm, natural environment, doing something physical, sharing thoughts and appreciation.
- In a relationship, there’s nothing that’s more romantic than doing something new together, learning something together, or doing something scary together; you can’t connect with someone in a better way. And it’s not just romantic, Lorene feels the same way about her girlfriends.
- Asking Lorene what three things she can’t live without, she said the answer changes over time. Right now it’s kindness; affection, warmth and affection; intelligence, depth.
- Lorene does a lot of volunteer work. She visits seniors and people who are isolated. She grew up without grandparents because they passed in the Holocaust, so she had a yearning for that kind of connection. What she later learned was how much they appreciate the connection too. She believes we all want to be a part of something and make a connection, and volunteering is a great way to do so by doing something good.
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From Lorene: Listen to this podcast!!!
Jason Zappolo for editing and mixing this episode; follow Jason on instagram.
Orly Margulis for social media support; follow Orly on linkedIn.
Rocío Castañeda for ongoing support; follow Rocío on instagram.