Every fall in the U.S. we perform a series of rituals that invite us to go beyond the ordinary. Halloween conjures up our connection to the spirit world, while Thanksgiving has us appreciating the abundance of our earthly lives. The Holidays—Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanza, the Solstice—is a time to renew our faith in the light and the possible, even in the darkest of times. It is a magical time when wishes come true and miracles happen. For many children this often comes in the form of receiving special gifts that appear in extra-ordinary ways. (Reindeer? A sleigh? Really?)
As adults we become the architects of this seasonal confection. But in our efforts to do so, we can lose our grasp on the magic of the holidays through the muchness of it all. All those gifts! So many events! The decorations! The rich foods, etc., etc.. The truth is: creating truly magical moments is a whole lot simpler when we connect with the genesis of it all, the human heart.
We know from experience that when we come from our heart, all sorts of incredible things become possible. As we speak from the heart, listen from the heart, act from the heart, and give from the heart, the alchemy transforms our mere words and actions into golden opportunities for connection and joy.
In speaking from the heart our words become imbued with an energy that touches both the speaker and the listener. One of the most powerful phrases is, of course, "I love you." Almost equally impactful is some form of the phrase "I see you." To really comprehend someone else, and then to acknowledge them in a meaningful way is profound. The late author Maya Angelou was someone who relished the potency of words. In a biographical film she is shown meeting a young woman who has traveled to see her, and after they speak for a time, Ms. Angelou says to her, "The world needs you." Even through the screen you could see how the magic of those words was instantaneous and life changing for the young woman.
In his book Non-Violent Communication, Marshall Rosenberg speaks to the widespread hunger he sees for expressing and receiving true appreciation. By this he doesn't mean some form of vague positive judgment like, "good job," "how kind of you," or "thanks for your work," but something more fully acknowledging. He has created a simple formula for speaking from your heart in this way:
describe the action + how this fulfills your need + the positive emotion/impact you experience
"When you rub my feet, I am able to relax in a deep way and I feel very loved."
This type of acknowledgement is not limited to communication between family and friends, but can be used at work too:
"The report you wrote had everything I needed to put together a top-notch presentation, making my job easier and more rewarding. Thank you!"
In addition to words, there are simple actions that, when they come from the heart, have the power to transform as well. A smile, a hug, and other gestures of kindness, generosity, and appreciation can transport the giver and the receiver to a new reality in an instant. For example, one of the reasons we love living where we do is because there is a shared sense in our town that we should be kind to one another on the street. We never cease being touched when someone stops long enough to hold open the door for us at the post office, or smile and say hello when passing on the street. Over the course of an hour walk we recently counted 12 hellos from strangers. That's an acknowledgement every 5 minutes! We felt blessed.
Sometimes the act can be as basic as just showing up. Everyone can recall a time when someone important to them showed up at a key moment in life—at graduation, the airport, during an illness or a difficult time. Remember how deeply you felt their affirmation through their presence? Pure gold.
This holiday season we encourage you to stay in touch with your heart and to come from that place as much as possible in word and deed. By so doing you will be embodying the spirit of the holidays and spreading untold magic to those around you.
What are some of the words and acts that have touched you deeply? By reviewing poignant moments you've felt, you will touch in to the power and magic of the right phrase or gesture at the right moment.
Plan to give yourself some quiet times throughout the month when you can touch in with what's in your heart. See what's there, and then find a way to express it.
Wishing you sleighfuls of holiday magic!
Beth and Eric
This monthly slow essay is from Beth Meredith & Eric Storm of Create The Good Life.
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