It is Love week of this Advent series, and I invite you join me in committing to increasing the amount of love in the world this week. A couple of years ago, I took the “Calling In the One” course with a friend of mine; one of the best insights they shared was that each of us is capable of being generative of love in our own lives. That is, we’re the source of the love in our own lives, and it’s up to us to act in a way to generate more love. It just takes a little bit of practice! These are some ideas on how to be more generative of love this week:
“The most precious gift we can offer anyone is our attention. When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers.”
– Thich Nhat Hanh
Listen More, Speak Less
You’ve heard this a million times, but it’s worth repeating – listening is a huge gift. If you haven’t experienced this before, I invite you to try it – get a friend, and agree to listen to each other for five minutes each, without any interruptions. Your goal as the listener is just to witness the other person. Your goal as the speaker, in this case, is to see how incredible it feels to have someone gift you with their full presence.
Once you’ve practiced, give this gift randomly throughout the week. Really listen to the guy in the coffee line complaining about traffic. Just be present with someone, even in five minute increments, throughout the week. I would love to hear how this goes for you, so please come back and comment if you decide to try it.
“Miss no single opportunity of making some small sacrifice, here by a smiling look, there by a kindly word; always doing the smallest right and doing it all for love.”
― St. Thérèse de Lisieux
Channel Miss Manners
We all hear scary stories of people hurting each other during Black Friday sales every year; what we don’t hear are stories of the countless acts of grace and kindness people display during this time. This week, try upping your standard courtesy to ‘dealing with the royal family’ levels. (Maybe skipping bowing and using titles!) Sometimes just letting someone take that coveted parking space can make their day.
“Love is the voice under all silences, the hope which has no opposite in fear; the strength so strong mere force is feebleness: the truth more first than sun, more last than star…”
I realize it’s the hardest season to actually do this, but it’s also the most necessary. I have yet to meet someone who would rather have a gift from an exhausted, irritated friend than time with the happy, sane version of that friend. Long ago in yet another workshop, this one Celebrating Women: Regarding Ecstasy & Power by PAX programs, I heard the revolutionary idea that it’s a gift to deliver our best selves to the people who love us. Not the stressed, exhausted, overworked, seconds-from-shrieking version.
Again this is something that seems so obvious. However, I found it revolutionary! And I think about it when making scheduling choices all the time – will this activity deliver my best self to the people I love the most? In the end, that is the best gift we can all give each other.
“And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.”