Most of us can get caught up so easily in the holiday lore. The feeling typically starts around Thanksgiving, and we carry it, sadly, through the new year. It’s almost like it’s “Groundhogs Day” all over again, right? Yet, it is the holidays.
We can fret over gifts. We worry the food won’t be good enough or we’ll feel judged if something goes wrong. We want to “look” right for the occasion.
We all – and yes, me too – can focus our energies on the “trappings” of the holidays. It is tough to avoid it, for sure! We are surrounded by the “perfect” photos and social media posts capturing idyllic settings we all are “supposed” to achieve. We hear or listen only to a friend or colleague who does “it all” and fantasize about how we wish we too could “do it all.”
To listen is to lean in softly with a willingness to be changed by what we hear – Mark Nepo
Instead of approaching your Thanksgiving with the pressures of perfection, like aiming for the perfect meal or outfit, feed your brain this year instead!
Our magnificent brain THRIVES on connection. In fact, it cannot survive without it. Connection is vital to our growth and to our wellness.
So, let’s view Thanksgiving, a time we typically spend with friends, family, and loved ones, as a time to connect. Worry less about the food, how we dress and just connect. I host a concierge small group at Alexandria Wellness, where we have spent two months focusing on the art and skill of listening. Listening is a lost art, and it is one sure way to connect more deeply with our loved ones.
We are a society that is already crafting the sentence in response to another person well before the person has completed their thought. We are a society of “interrupters,” “fixers,” and “defenders.” Instead of listening to understand what is being said, we listen to reply.
Don’t feel bad. We all do it. Yet what a wonderful time of year to show loved ones how you love and value them and want to connect with them. SO, LISTEN TO THEM.
Facts that may surprise you:
- 80 percent of what we learn is from listening
- 75 perfect of the time, we are distracted, preoccupied, or forgetful while listening
- One hour after listening, we recall 20 percent of what we heard
- The average person listens at only 25 percent efficiency
When a loved one is connecting with you, try these steps. (Hint: typically, in reply to “how are you?”)
- Pause for a breath before you respond.
- Look them in the eye with “open” posture (avoid crossing hands/arms.)
- Ask a follow-up question.
- While they are talking, try to refrain from proving, protecting, defending, obsessing, worrying, planning, judging, and blaming.
BONUS: Choose one person with whom you will connect during the Thanksgiving or Christmas holiday.
They may seem awkward. It’s okay. Most people are conditioned to being interrupted. It’s okay. They will feel loved.
Due to the overwhelming success of the work in which we are engaging on the art of listening, we have added “The Art of Listening” to our repertoire of concierge small group sessions and our corporate programs.
Science tells us social connectedness helps improve our quality of life, helps us live longer, wards off loneliness, and boosts your overall mental health. As is natural with the holidays, socialize, yet do so with an intent to really connect – to listen. To listen deeply implies that we will have a willingness to be surprised.
So instead of fretting about the food, the table décor, what you’ll wear… instead focus on connecting with those who Bless you with their company. And, listen.