Friday, December 24, 2010

The Gift of Receiving

During the holiday season, most people happily focus considerable attention on giving. All the retail stores and online companies dream that this focus will encourage gift buying at record levels and lead to a profitable bottom line for the year.

While this orientation supports the ancient maxim that it is better to give than to receive, an important question arises about "receiving" that merits consideration.

What do you value, what is important to you, about receiving?

To clarify your views on receiving, here are some additional questions for reflection:
  • How would you describe your presence with presents? Consider the physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual qualities of your presence in the moment.
  • How does your presence change when you are receiving gifts or anything else in various situations, or with different people?
  • To what extent is it easier for you to give than to receive?
  • What circumstances within and outside you create blocks in your ability to fully and freely receive?
  • What internal and external conditions help you receive from others?
  • What other questions or concerns do you have about receiving?
  • What might you do to enhance your capacity to receive?
As you review these questions, you may benefit from making further distinctions in the behavior of receiving. For example, you may have observed that "engaged receptivity" feels very different from "passive acceptance" of a gift, both when you're giving and when you're receiving.

When you wholeheartedly "take on" someone else's giving, your receiving demonstrates an acknowledgment of that person's attention and efforts on your behalf. This kind of receiving can have powerful, memorable effects on the giver and the receiver, especially when you act authentically, and express genuine gratitude for what you have been given.

In these ways, receiving can become an intimate interpersonal response, and your expansive gift to others.

May your receiving touch the heart of everyone who gives to you.

Love and Peace,

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Singing Your HeartVoice!

The other night I enjoyed a TV show, The Sing-Off, that features diverse and wonderfully talented a cappella groups from around the country. Besides the amazing singers, the program possesses a pleasant surprise for the "reality" genre.

The judges!

Although the show fosters competition and seeks a "winner," this experienced panel communicates skillful insights, genuineness, and helpful criticism in their feedback to the artists. This kind of effective and supportive evaluation is difficult to find in most families, businesses, and organizations, let alone on network television.

As an example, in the most recent challenge, the judges assigned a different song that would tap into each group's strengths and potentially bring out their best performance. They weren't looking to trip up the contestants. Rather, the judges wanted to facilitate growth and a rewarding experience for everyone. Their encouragement succeeded beyond expectations, and, consequently, all the groups advanced to the finals!

Imagine what you (your friends, family, coworkers) would do with that type of loving attention . . .

Another demonstration of the judges' beneficial style frequently occurred when they remarked that a group had taken a song seriously, while allowing themselves to act "silly" or in some lighthearted way.

This distinction between a group's professional attitude about the music and their entertaining perception of themselves inevitably resulted in a solid performance. In this way, they let go of any self-consciousness, displayed a high level of skill in a very challenging situation, and exemplified the "flow" state described by noted author Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.

As you would expect in such moments, the group's sheer happiness and unbridled enthusiasm became contagious, thrilled the audience, and led to rave reviews.

The series of these interactions between the judges and the different groups implicate other domains of life as well. Consider these questions for your own personal or professional activities:
  • How can you more fully tap into your own (and others') strengths?
  • What support do you need to let go of any self-consciousness you have at work (or at home)?
  • What skills would help you improve your performance in the midst of high-level challenges at work (or at home)?
  • How could you be more "silly" and lighthearted in your work (or home) environment?
  • In what ways would you like to have more fun, enjoy yourself, and "let your music out" in your work (or home) life?
  • How can you introduce more ease or playfulness into your work (or home) settings?
  • What feedback could you give to others at work (at home) that would optimally nurture their feelings of self-worth, confidence, and successful performances?
When you play with these kinds of questions, you will probably discover that you're opening doorways to creatively and lovingly explore possibilities for yourself and others.

Remember: You don't have to guess others' responses to these questions. Ask them directly and your subsequent actions will be more meaningful and effective.

In my experience with thousands of people over 35 years, I have never heard anyone say that he or she was loved too much. Therefore, when you "lavish" this specific supportive, caring attention on your family or colleagues, they may initially express some surprise. Then, they will typically warm up and happily collaborate with you to bring about a mutually desired outcome.

As you practice this new way of bringing out the best in yourself and others in daily living:

Sing out with your HeartVoice!

Love and Peace,