Amid the hustle and bustle of the Holidays, shopping, parties, travel and dinners, it’s important to pause and reflect on the gifts that already surround us. One very important person in my life has given me many gifts that DON’T come from a store, my mother. I hope you are inspired by her example, appreciate the impact these gifts can have and share some of them in your own life.
The Cards –
My mom was always known for card sending. There are so many lessons from her card sending.
Care and Love
Christmas is the one time a year she would be sure to send everyone a card who she loved and who she met. She started her Christmas cards months in advance so she could write a special note, shower the card with love and make sure no one was forgotten. Throughout the year she always found special reasons to send a card if even it was to say ‘hello’ or simply, ‘thinking of you’. She carefully picked verses meant for the person. She wanted others to have an unexpected message of recognition, kindness and love in their day.
We all need support and to be recognized. Instead of focusing on her own struggles, she wanted the focus to be on others. She knew she was not alone; others had similar struggles, even though they might never speak about their difficulties.
She has close friends who have lost a child and many others who have lost loved ones. My mother would send a ‘thinking of you’ card on the anniversary of loss. She wanted the other person to know they were in her thoughts and not alone in their pain. She also wanted them to know that the person is still remembered and goes on. Many years ago a pastor and friend described her card and notes as her ministry and this resonated with her. She would often repeat these words to describe the meaning and significance of the cards she sent.
Giving freely without expectation
Even after years of a person not responding in kind to her cards she would continue to send them. She would always tell me that the card sending was not about receiving a card in return, rather the gift of giving.
Observing her own reaction to receiving a card was so delightful as she received the same gift she often gave. She expressed excitement about receiving the card, anticipation in what lies in the envelope, being recognized by the person and the words touching her heart. After reading and smiling, she would proudly show everyone else.
Kindness – My mom values the kindness of others through words or a touch. She demonstrates consistent kindness even in the face of rudeness, condescension and someone being mean. Her kindness to others only ends if the person is hurting someone else. When a person is rude, she acknowledges it isn’t appropriate yet and coaches the person to remember to be kind to those in pain. Even then, she tried to respond with neutrality. Even now, she prays for those who are helping her with daily living, while recovering from surgery. She says a kind word, thanks them and says a prayer as she recognizes the hard work they each do.
Smiles – She consistently smiles at those with whom she interacts. She reports the warmth of a smile to herself and knows this is an inexpensive gift that has far reaching effects. She is often shocked that many people don’t smile at each other. It is her litmus test for her own care. When the care provider won’t smile, she tells me the negative impact from the person and how it affected her day. I know that research continually supports her own first-hand experience.
Seeing Goodness – My mom always sees the positives in others first. Everyone has faults and personal challenges. She first sees the person’s strengths before their weaknesses, and would provide support so they could move forward. People will prosper with those who believe in them and provide a helping hand.
Remember it is important to demonstrate support, kindness and care. Others in life are also struggling and we are not alone. We can help ourselves and our mental health by doing things for others and focusing outward. Depression research is very clear that giving to others and behavioral activation helps reduce the symptoms. We need to care for others with forethought and demonstrate this with caring acts of kindness and help.
Even now in rehab recovering from a fall, she is unable to write or send a card. Instead, she attempts to call who she can and provide the same message to those as she did for many, many years.
I’m very conscious about how to share these gifts that don’t come from a store. I pass them onto my client’s in our relationship and I help them cultivate these gifts in themselves and their relationships. These are truly unique gifts that continue to keep on giving.
In the New Year, consider coming in to set a new course for yourself and new relationships. As a brain wise therapist, I’m continually making the connection between neuroscience research and emotions with my clients. These gifts are obtainable in your life and learn how by calling Take Charge, Inc. 913-239-8255