Why do you give? What do you want the impact of your giving to be? What do you intend to create for yourself, your loved ones, and your community through the act of giving? When I ask myself these questions, the journey always leads me to a simple destination. I want to give love and happiness.
Simple, and not easy! Per the Webster’s Dictionary, to give means: “to freely transfer the possession of something to someone”. That seems straight forward if I’m giving someone an object like a piece of jewelry. Then I asked myself, when I give love, what is the thing I’m possessing that I’m transferring to someone? What is love?
So, I invite you to pause with me for a second to explore. You might want to remember a moment when you felt love or deeply loved.
What is happening in your memory? Who was with you? Where does the memory take place?
Take a deep breath and allow yourself to recall a special moment of feeling love. When you have the memory clearly in your mind and heart, and when you can see, hear and know you are feeling love, ask yourself, what is the feeling of love? Simply breathe, and notice.
What is the felt sensation of love?
The Five Love Languages
I have been doing a lot of Christmas shopping, and while shopping, I have been lamenting the fact that I feel I am not a great giver of gifts. I never know what to buy, I’m afraid that the receiver won’t like my gift, and It seems so wasteful to buy something that’s not needed or wanted. When I evaluate the impact of my gift buying, I realize that I’m just not feelin’ the love.
Many years ago I read a book called “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman. In this book, the author describes five ways we communicate love, appreciation, and gratitude.
The Five Love Languages are:
- Receiver of Gifts
- Quality Time
- Words of Affirmation
- Acts of Service
- Physical Touch
My primary “love language” is Quality Time – I feel loved when someone spends “quality” time with me. My secondary love language is Acts of Service – I feel loved when someone does something for me; when someone serves my needs without being asked.
The love language that is at the bottom of my list is Receiver of Gifts. Sure, I like receiving gifts, but, I feel loved when I am invited to do something fun, or if someone does something that I need done without my having to ask.
When I remembered that giving gifts is not a way that I understand love or feel loved, I immediately relaxed into gift giving for the holidays. I began to inquire into my loved one’s love languages. For example, my husband and I have similar love languages. So as a gift for Carl, I will stop looking for “cool Carl stuff” to buy and I will find an experience or an event that we can do together. As for my Mom, she doesn’t feel loved when receiving gifts either. As I think back and remember her words and her behavior, I am guessing that her love languages are Words of Affirmation and Quality Time. I will find something she would enjoy that we can do together, and I will give it to her with a mushy card.
So, how do you know someone’s love language?
Here is my suggestion. Look at them, really look at them. Notice how they show you love. Do they buy you the best gifts? That would indicate someone who is a Receiver of Gifts. Do they invite you to go places and do things that are fun and unusual? That would indicate someone who will feel loved if you spend Quality Time with them. Do they send you heartfelt cards for every occasion or call you to tell you how much they love and miss you? This person will feel loved and appreciated if you shower them with Words of Affirmation. Possibly you know someone who is always doing little things for you without being asked. They will know you love them if you perform some Acts of Service. And finally, do you have someone special in your life who is always hugging, touching you on the shoulder or patting you on the head? This person will likely respond to physical touch. Put your arms around them and give them a 20 second hug. Even if they wiggle and move, they will know that you love them.
Now it’s Your Turn
What are your love languages? What are the love languages of your loved ones?
Mother Teresa wrote, “It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.”
I encourage you to take a moment (another deep breath) and notice what you’re really giving to the people you love this holiday season. Is it a card and a sweater in a beautifully wrapped box, or is it true love and a moment of happiness?
Annamarie Fernyak, A certified Life & Mindfulness Coach and founder of Mind Body Align; a place which nourishes well-being, growth, and belonging through education, collaboration, and environment.