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Steven Dunn: Rethinking Connections With Moments of Softness

We’ve learned a lot of lessons over the last two years. Some were hard to swallow. Like facing systemic racism that went ignored for too long. Others were a shock to the system, like how critically unprepared our infrastructure is when faced with disaster and disease. However, a large lesson everyone learned when the world came to a stand still during the COVID-19 pandemic was to not take anything for granted — not your health, not your loved ones, and not the connection you have with them and others around you.

At TEDxMileHigh, we are stepping into this new season and rethinking some of the basics. 

Join us for our next in person event, TEDxMH: Rethink, and learn how to rewire your thoughts on issues you thought you already understood. 

In the meantime, we are tackling our own topics on the blog as a part of our Rethink series. Let’s start rethinking human connection and understand how creating moments of softness for yourself and others can make a harsh world feel softer.

Steven Dunn’s Moments of Softness

Sure, the last few years have been hard for everyone. But, try to consider your day-to-day life before the anomaly that has been this pandemic. Was it still hard? Perspective is everything, and maybe you’re looking back on it now and realizing that, in comparison, it really wasn’t that bad. But, at the time, it might have felt like it couldn’t get any worse.

Life is hard. There are things we all have to face in our own ways, and we don’t necessarily have a choice in the matter. Things like poverty, racism, and gender inequality are all forces that we’re up against daily. However, according to TEDxMileHigh: All Together speaker Steven Dunn, there are ways we can create moments of softness for ourselves and those around us to make the world feel a little nicer and make our lives feel easier.

In his talk, Dunn mentions several moments of softness that were created by those surrounding him throughout his life. These moments are times Dunn remembers as beautiful, loving, happy times that he can lean on when the world around him feels too difficult.

Dunn’s mom and her friend Ms. Evelyn were a part of one of these moments of softness when they continued to play a part in one of Dunn’s childhood fantasies, rather than crushing it with the truth. Dunn was convinced that Ms. Evelyn was famous singer Evelyn Champagne King, and he would be so excited to head over to her house to watch her perform with his mom.

Little did he know, Ms. Evelyn was not in fact Evelyn Champagne, she just happened to have the same name. When he discovered this years later, he realized that she and his mom were creating a soft place where Dunn’s dream of knowing and watching a famous singer were true. Rather than crushing this innocent childhood fantasy, they played along and let Dunn believe whatever he wanted about the world for that brief moment in time.

“That softness came before I knew how exhausting and painfully hard the world is for a lot of us.” – Steven Dunn

Create Moments of Softness in Your Life

Small moments of softness happen more often than you might think. But, they are so important to capture and save for times when you need a break from the toughness of the world. You can create these moments yourself, or be an expert in spotting them when they’re happening. This way, like Dunn, you can create a “running catalog of softness.” Here’s how.

1. Start With Others

Dunn gives another example of softness that his mother created for other kids at his school. She was the lunch lady, and she connected with every single student by genuinely asking how they were doing. She even risked her job by saving food to give to those who she knew didn’t have enough to eat.

Dunn recognized this early on as another moment of softness his mom was creating for other people. Although at the time he may not have had a name for it, or recognized it as ‘softness’ he can look back on those moments his mom created for others as an example. 

So, if you’re looking to create softness in your own life, start by watching others. Take note of when they go above and beyond to help someone, or make them smile. These moments may seem small and insignificant on the outside, but to someone going through a hard time, they might mean everything, so no moment is too small.

2. Write Them Down

Whether they happen to you or someone else, catalog every moment of softness you experience. Dunn mentions that he writes his down in a journal and keeps a running tab open on his laptop.

Cataloging these special moments will help to ensure that you always have a soft place to fall back on. When you’re feeling overwhelmed, sad, angry, or lost, this catalog of softness that you create can be a resource. You can read through moments that made you feel happier, and hopeful in order to pull yourself up.

3. Share What You’ve Seen

An easy way to create a moment of softness for yourself and for someone else is to share a moment that you’ve experienced. Whether that’s explaining to another that something they did was really thoughtful, or recounting a moment that happened to you, sharing softness ultimately creates more softness.

Some moments are too special and those you can keep to yourself. But, don’t be afraid to let others in on your newfound happiness.

Rethink Human Connection

These moments of softness that Dunn mentions are a new way to consider human connection. Creating softness is a way to help one another. Softness is a deeper level of connection, one that we carry with us and use when we need to. It’s time we rethink human connection. We need to understand that we all need softness in our lives to keep going in a world that too often feels too hard.

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