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There are many ways to do this.  Sometimes it’s just a matter of listening.  Being really present and listening carefully to someone can be the best gift we can ever give them.

We can honor them by seeing them as whole just the way they are.  Sometimes that’s difficult, especially when they don’t see themselves that way. What an amazing gift it is to reflect something different!  It’s a matter of holding in mind a thought there is always a reason for why people do and say what they do. Give them the same leniency you might give yourself, knowing your reasons. Knowing that they are just where they need to be.

Honoring another means remaining centered in love.  Seeing them as another unfolding, awakening soul.  After all, we are made of the same stuff.  You might even say we are one.

Another way we can honor others is by acknowledging their gifts and offering praise for them.  I believe there was a generation who believed people (children, in particular) would get a big ego if they heard too much praise.  I don’t believe that.  People with big egos, who’s britches are too big for them, are usually not sure at all how wonderful they are.

I love that as you give others the gift of listening to what they have to say, you can also give yourself a gift. There is something to learn from every encounter with others.  You might pick up some good ideas, advise or suggestions.  You could also spot something in yourself that is similar to what you’re seeing in the other.  That might be cool with you and allow to give yourself some praise.  Or it could be something you don’t care for. Seeing that, you can do something to change it in yourself.

Every moment life is offering us messages. By paying attention to others, by being present with them, you continue to practice present moment awareness. And in so doing, hear the guidance that’s always there.

Giving presents is what everyone does – especially at this time of year.  Can we be more creative and find other ways to give?

What may come to mind first is giving money.  That’s an easy one to do, if you have it. You don’t have to have a fortune to give money, though.  In some spiritual circles, you’re encouraged to give, even when you don’t think you have it. Giving money can make you feel abundant.

Another one that comes readily to mind is giving time.  This kind of giving can manifest in many different ways.  You could, of course, give your time to help someone with a chore.  Sometimes just showing up and spending time with someone can be a gift.  It might only be your company that makes someone feel less alone.  Other times your presence might support what someone is doing.

Giving time, of course, can be about volunteering.  So often our time is taken up in self-centric activities, such as earning our wages or tending to our surroundings. Volunteering your time, giving it freely for the good of someone else can be very freeing.

Giving can mean handing over some of your possessions to those with less.  Maybe it is a gift you’ve purchased just for someone special. A phone call or letter might touch someone’s heart at just the right time and be a gift.  As I’ve found recently, giving my attention to a project can make a real difference.

An area of giving that doesn’t get talked about much is giving to yourself.  Maybe there’s something you’ve really been needing lately.  If you take the time and the money to go out and get it for yourself, that can be considered giving.  You might just decide to give yourself permission to go after what you want or to be sad because you didn’t get something you wanted.

Giving can happen spontaneously.  It can be so fast you could miss it, if you’re not watching. You could be walking along the street and come across someone who’s dropped their packages, stoop over and help them gather their things. Opening the door for someone who’s struggling. Giving someone space to express their opinions without interrupting or arguing could be a generous gift at times. Others may just need you to give them permission to be who they are or your acceptance for what they’re trying to do.

Perhaps you could give of yourself – something you know, what you’ve learned or what you think.  You could give a recommendation, a referral or a kidney.  I often like to give compliments. Giving encouragement can also be very helpful.  You could give a day off, a free pass, or a leg up.

Whenever you can give something to yourself or someone else, most particularly something of your own, it warms and expands your heart. And strengthens your giving muscle.

It seems everywhere I turn these days, people are talking about relationships.  Books, seminars, lectures, and even classes on how to have better relationships.  Maybe I’ve been especially blessed as I’ve always had lots of relationships and feel fairly contented (at least at the moment) with my significant other.

I just don’t think it’s that tricky.  Relationships are what your life is all about.  The relationship you have with the people, places and things around you, defines who you are.  Every relationship is there to help you wake up and learn something new about yourself.  Everyone is your “Zen Master” as my teacher, Paulette Terrels says. 

So, why do people carry on so about them? Does it say something about our culture that people are so dissatisfied with the relationships in their lives? Or feel so separated and alone?  Can I say all my relationships are perfect?  That I wouldn’t want to tweak a few them?  Of course not.  But I try to use them all as a flashlight to illuminate things I need to learn and experience.

We are social beings and tend to congregate.  If there’s no one in your life, it’s probably because you’re not letting them in.

Here are my humble ways to have good relationships:

1)  Be more conscious in your relationships.  Know that you make a statement about who you are by how you relate to everything in your life.  Pay attention and take steps which reflect how you wish to relate, how you wish to be in relationship to whoever or whatever it is.

2)  Let go of expectations.  People are not put here to live up to your expectations and behave just the way you want them to. It’s a practice in peace to allow others to be who they are. It is also the greatest gift you can give them.

3)  Remember very few of us are mind readers.  Frankly, we’ve all got way too much chatter going on in our heads to allow in someone else’s.  If you don’t tell someone what you need or want, how are they supposed to know?  Be sure to let go of your expectations when you do, though.  Just because you ask, doesn’t mean they can deliver. But you’re surely not going to get what you want by being quiet and hoping the other will just know.

One of my favorite episodes of the old Dick Van Dyke show (from the 60’s) begins with Rob and Laura in the car, coming home one night.  Laura is obviously angry at Rob, but he doesn’t have a clue why.  He recounts the entire evening in flashbacks, trying to find the place where he messed up. They went to the theater with friends and then went for coffee and met some other friends. At the end of the evening, Rob picks up the check and we see that is what has gotten Laura’s panties in a twist.  She thinks he doesn’t love their 8 year old son.  Huh? Why would she think that? Finally she admits, she thinks Rob has jeopardized their son’s college education by  picking up the tab for everyone’s dinner when all the two of them had was dessert. I remember that scene when I am thinking someone should know what I want: Laura spent a lot of time feeling angry when all she had to do was tell him!  “If you don’t know, I’m not going to tell you,” is a lame excuse and causes far more problems than just saying it. If he had known she felt that way, he wouldn’t have picked up the check to begin with.

4)  Allow your relationships to come and go.  What is the saying that people are in your life for a moment, a season or a lifetime.  When it’s time for a person to leave your life, let them go – whether that’s to college, another plane of existence, across town, or the next love. We cannot hold people with us.  It is the nature of relationships to change.

5)  Appreciate the relationships you have.  There is something to be found in every relationship. I’m in a position right now where I come in contact with a lot of people.  Each one of them offers me something different.  Each one is a gift in my life. Notice how even the smallest relationship – like the person behind the counter at the library – can make your day.

6)  Define the kind of people you want in your life and watch for them. SARK talks about “building platforms of support.”  If you want a strong system to hold you up in your life, order up a platform of support. Who are the kind of people that will bring to your life what you need?  Then just be on the lookout for them.

7)  Open to relationships.  Don’t be so picky about it.  Know that you can learn, grow and have fun with just about anyone. Open your heart to others and they will open theirs to you.

 

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