by: Margaret Paul, Ph.D.
When we think of giving gifts, we usually think of things to buy for people. Yet if you think back on gifts you've been given, it might not be the material gifts you received that are foremost in your mind - it might be the kind of gifts that deeply touched your heart and soul. It might be various ways, other than material things, that people expressed their love to you.
There are five gifts of love that we can give to our families that can make a huge difference in their lives.
THE GIFT OF CARING AND COMPASSION
We all yearn to feel cared for, yet many of us withhold caring and compassion for others. A profound gift we can give to our loved ones is to listen with our heart, to understand and accept rather than to judge, and to stay open to learning rather than to protect against being hurt.
Think about the last time someone actually listened to you and gave you understanding and acceptance. The feeling of being understood and accepted with caring and compassion is one of the best feelings in the world. Instead of focusing on getting this from others, why not focus on giving it to others? You might be surprised at how wonderful you feel in giving this gift to your family.
THE GIFT OF COURAGE
One of the best gifts we can give our loved ones is our own courage. This means being having the courage to stand in our truth, to be honest about what we want and don't want, what we will do and won't do, what is and what is not acceptable to us. It means having the courage to take good care of ourselves, even if others don't like it. It means not succumbing to our controlling behaviors that come from fear: anger, withdrawal, compliance, resistance, but instead being honest and above-board about ourselves. It means being willing to face conflict rather than give ourselves up to avoid it.
When we have the courage to face conflict and tell the truth, we not only provide our family with a role model for courage, but we provide opportunities for our loved ones to step up to the plate in the face of our truth and learn to be courageous too.
THE GIFT OF SERVICE
We are on this planet to learn to love ourselves and each other, and to help each other. One of the best gifts we can give our family is to role model this by doing service. Helping others fills the heart and soul in ways that nothing else can. If children do not see their parents doing service and helping others, they may never learn the great joy and fulfillment that comes from giving. One of the best gifts we can give to our family is to provide ways of doing service.
THE GIFT OF CREATIVITY
All of us are born with various ways of expressing our creativity. Expressing creativity is a profound way of connecting with Spirit, since expressed creativity is a direct expression of Spirit. Providing your family with many ways of expressing their creativity is a great gift. Creativity can be expressed in so many ways - cooking, crafts, building things, music, art, movement, telling stories, writing, humor, photography and video - the possibilities are endless! Creative family projects are especially wonderful in creating family closeness.
THE GIFT OF LIGHTNESS OF BEING
Lightness of being - fun, joy, laughter, playfulness - is a great gift to give to others. Lightness of being is infectious - our laughter and playfulness can help others take life less seriously and "lighten up."
Lightness of being is one the results of all the other gifts - of caring, courage, service and creativity. When we give these gifts, we feel a wonderful lightness within, the lightness that is the result of fully giving from the heart. Our own lightness of being can bring lightness into our whole family. Children love it when their parents are playful, funloving and joyful. Laughing together as a family is one of the most precious experiences in life.
We need to focus of giving these gifts each day, not just during a holiday season or special occasions. These gifts are far more important than any material thing we can buy for someone. In fact, we might not be so focused on material gifts if we frequently give the gift of love - of caring, compassion, courage, service, creativity, and lightness of being.