As Christmas approaches, the pressure is on to find orginal gifts for those we love. Every year, it seems to get harder and harder to find just the right thing. The best gifts in live are free, they say. While you can’t wrap these gifts up and put them under the tree, they are infinitely more rewarding than anything Mr. Mastercard could give your loved ones.
Be courageous. Start showing up as yourself, wherever you go. No pretending you have it all together. No confabulating answers to questions you can’t answer. And no holding yourself back to appear less than you are.
If you wear your heart like a cuff-link – then wear it proud.
If you’re absentminded – then wave your flag high, as a wayward wanderer who navigates life through the scenic route.
If you don’t know or understand something – be wise enough to say so.
This kind of realness is electrifying. It puts people at ease around you and inspires them to be their real selves with confidence.
Be thankful for who you are, knowing that your unique perspective and skill-set in life is a beautiful thread in the tapestry of humankind. Be thankful for the other people – flaws and all – knowing that they, too, are perfectly woven into the fabric of life.
Show your gratitude. Its easy to say thank-you when someone does something for you. Its profound when you say thank-you to someone for being who they are.
3. Be transparent
“Say what you mean and mean what you say.” Don’t fake it – it doesn’t fool anyone. And by skirting around an issue, it denies everyone the opportunity of growing together.
Say what you think. By all means, say it politely – but don’t sell yourself out by saving someone’s feelings. By doing so, you’re selling them out too.
Like authenticity, transparency saves people the guesswork of trying to figure out what’s going on with you.
4. Start and stop – talking and listening
If you’re a Chatty Kathy, then take the batteries out and give other people some airtime. Don’t finish their sentences or anticipate your next. Give them the space to express themselves and your patience to wait for it. You never know what you might learn.
Likewise, if you’re a Silent Sam – start talking. Sometimes over-talkers only do so because they feel compelled to fill the dead airspace. Let them off the hook and fill the space yourself. If you think you have nothing to say – remember points one and three. Be yourself. If you’re at a loss for words – say so.
Asking if someone needs help is nice. Asking how you can help is better. Suggesting how you can help is the best.
Sometimes, people are too nice to ask for help. Other times, they aren’t sure you can help. And what they need, may be something you aren’t willing to offer. Help given begrudgingly is worse than not helping at all. Make it easy to be helped, by articulating exactly what you can offer.
6. Sometimes, just do it
Asking – “Do you need any help?” – when you can clearly see they do, is really saying:
“Can you please not be angry at me for doing nothing. I feel bad, but not bad enough to pitch in”.
Sometimes, the best thing to do is to role up your sleeves and get stuck in, without being asked.
7. Ask for what you want
In the spirit of transparency, don’t assume other people read minds. Ask for what you want – in plain and simple terms.
Just because they “should know”, doesn’t mean they do. You have no idea what else is on their mind. Don’t be a martyr. Be assertive. If you don’t ask, you won’t get.
8. Challenge your negative thoughts
Your inner thoughts may be a private membership club, but what’s going on in there will leak out and affect other people – by what you say, how you say it, and what you do.
Don’t accept your thoughts at face value, as if they are factual just because you are thinking them. Challenge them by asking yourself:
“How does this thought serve (or sabotage) me?”
“What am I missing?”
“What’s another way I could look at this situation?”
Being more open-minded allows you to be non-judgmental. It doesn’t mean that you will think positively no matter what, but that you will think more objectively without being offended, defensive, or rehashing old wounds (and damaging relationships in the process).
9. Speak positively
Sticks and stones may break your bones, but words can spread like viruses.
Find positive meaning in experiences and vocalize it, even if the negative can’t be ignored. Most people aren’t hardwired for noticing the positive aspects of a difficult situation. Disappointment, hassle and hardship all have voices too loud to ignore. But focusing on the positive aspects of a situation helps people be more resilient to the hardships of life.
You don’t need to be syrupy or sappy. But showing off your own silver lining inadvertently teaches other people to look for their own.
Love is patient, love is kind… you know the rest.
We know how important unconditional acceptance is if we want to have a meaningful relationship with other people. But giving it to ourselves is just as important.
When you accept yourself, you lead the way for other people to become more accepting of themselves too. Growing as person and overcoming challenges is always easier when you start from a stand-point of
“I’m okay, but I’m getting even better”.
Teach unconditional acceptance to other people by offering it to them and yourself first.
No matter what you put under the tree this Christmas, make a point in the coming year to give more of these gifts to the people in your life and notice the difference it makes to everyone. Got anymore ideas? Share them in the comments below….
PS. This post was a mash-up of a post I did a few years ago. I’m going to be taking a break from posting until the New Year, so I can leave myself some space to focus on others things. Mostly, time with my family, freinds, and my first few batches of homemade Bailey’s.
I also intend to use this break to conjure up some fresh ideas for next year’s posts. Unless I have too much Bailey’s. Then who knows what I’ll come up with.
Wish me luck 🙂
And Merry Christmas to all!