The holidays are not only an excellent time for physical gift giving, but also an opportunity to assess how we can better give our best self to those around us: our beloved partner, family, and friends. In fact, positive self-confrontation and the subsequent work to refine what we find can be one of the greatest, long-lasting gifts we can present to others and ourselves.
These needn’t be boldly declared actions, for their power lies in humble execution.
Express appreciation. Though actions ultimately speak louder than words, expressing love and gratitude is still invaluable. Never underestimate the power of a beautifully written, heartfelt note.
Be a good listener. One of the greatest forms of respect we can give to another person is to listen well. Honestly and lovingly observe how you listen. Work to improve as needed.
Tie up loose ends, even if it’s initially an uncomfortable subject to address. One immeasurably valuable gift for all parties is to exercise clear, concise, and conscious speech at all times, especially during or after adverse circumstances. After all, sweeping stuff under the rug and hoping no one will notice is not only invariably futile in due time, but disrespectful.
We probably all have a couple of elephants in the living room with those we love, whether large or very, very small. Make an effort to communicate about outstanding, unresolved issues calmly and lovingly. Of course, I don’t recommend tackling a difficult subject matter at the holiday dinner table! Work patiently, one-on-one, without an imposed timeline.
Don’t escalate. When disagreements arise, do you escalate? Observe your habits. If this is your tendency, make an effort to do otherwise.
Respect personal space. Honor when your loved one needs a little time alone by not reading into it unnecessarily or taking it personally. After all, clichés result from truth. Separation does make the heart grow fonder.
And what about strangers we meet along the way?
Share a smile. If you’re in a bitter mood, do your best to keep it to yourself. You just might find it subsides sooner.
Yoga brings stability and calm into every discipline of Sophie Herbert's life. She is an alignment focused yoga teacher (and perpetual student) and a Whole Living contributing editor. She graduated from the Cooper Union School of Art, where she nurtured her passion for documentary photography. It was during this time that she began her disciplined and diverse study of yoga in New York, Paris, and India.
Sophie has lived, studied, and volunteered extensively in India. She feels grateful to still visit and work regularly with the Deenabandhu Children's Home in Chamarajanagar, Karnataka. In November of 2010, she became an ambassador for Yoga Gives Back www.yogagivesback.org, a grass-roots nonprofit that helps destitute women and girls in India build more sustainable lives. Sophie has also shared her knowledge of yoga at the Prana Yoga Center in Astana, Kazakhstan. Currently, she teaches at the Park Slope Yoga Center www.parkslopeyoga.com in Brooklyn and privately. Sophie is also an avid cook.