Lately I have been interested in the nature of giving: what I give, and more importantly, how. My aim is to give with integrity. To me this is about giving without a hidden agenda, whether it is time, energy, help, money, gifts, supportive words, a listening ear, or something else entirely. When I choose to give, I want to do so freely, without expecting anything back that others have not agreed to.
Sometimes we reach out to people hoping they will return the action in some way. This is fine if there is a clear, mutual agreement. But if there is not, we may find ourselves feeling resentful, or resorting to indirect or coercive tactics to try to get what we want. This is not fair to the people to whom we are giving, and it’s no fun for anyone. It is important to be aware of our true motives when we give. We might think our intentions are pure, but if we dig deeper, discover that we feel other people owe us something—even if they never explicitly agreed to it. Read more…
For all who have lost loved ones: This is one of the most stunning poems I have ever come across. (I couldn’t resist sharing it here.)
Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn's rain.
When you awaken in the morning's hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there; I did not die.
My dear friend in Beijing, Enoch, just posted a lovely blog inspired by our friendship. After taking several weeks to reply to a note I had sent her, Enoch wrote me an email of apology. From my perspective, no apology was needed. I messaged her back with the assurance that I’m a “no guilt, no pressure” friend…and that I would be fine even if she did not get back to me at all. I want her to make the choices that are best for her, not to worry about taking care of me. My friends can come and go as they like!
This simple exchange opened a very cool dialogue between Enoch and me, and I appreciate her reflections, along with the thoughtful comments to her post.
Click Here to read Enoch's blog, if you like.
Last week the New York Times ran an article titled â€śTalk Deeply, Be Happy?â€ť It featured a study showing that the more substantive conversations we have each day, the happier we are likely to be. The article got me thinking about what it means to connect meaningfully with others.
Great conversation is a highlight of my life. I understand the desire to tackle the subjects that weigh on our minds and hearts, especially the ones that hide beneath everyday chitchat. Because of this, I used to automatically categorize some discussions asÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â â€śsmall talkâ€ť and others as â€śdeep talkâ€ťâ€”and I preferred to swim in the deep end of the pool. When conversations lacked emotional or intellectual gravitas, I felt a lingering emptiness, as if the connection was somehow incomplete. I didnâ€™t realize that my mental labels were actually what was keeping me separate from othersâ€”not the interactions themselves.
Somewhere along the way, my experience began to change.Â Â Read more…
Harmonious relationships rest on communication that is honest, compassionate, and responsible. When everything is going smoothly, effective communication is not so difficult. Under stress, however, our ability to communicate empathically is challenged. Because stress triggers our survival instincts, these are the times in which we need to remember that other peopleâ€™s feelings matter too.
Several years ago I had an experience that taught me how not to communicate under stress. I was standing at an airport counter while a friend waited nearby, trying to sort out complications with a flight. Things were not looking good. As I talked with the airline employee, my friend jumped into the conversation. Although she was trying to be helpful,Â Â I didnâ€™t want to be interrupted at that moment. In a flash, I snapped that I could take care of it myself and waved her away.Â Read more…