The way we know is fateful... Human beings and organizations move in the direction of what they inquire about.
~ Jane Magruder Watkins, Appreciative Inquiry Theory and Practice
Tell me a story about the best Christmas, best Hanukkah, best holiday season you ever had. What made it so wonderful? Who was involved? What about that time makes you remember it so vividly? How did you contribute to its special qualities? Write the story down if you like.
As you think about this special time of year, what do you think is at the heart of the holiday you celebrate? Can you look for that this season?
Sometimes, when the world feels upside down, fear and anxiety dominate our thoughts, and we forget to appreciate the gifts all around us, and especially the beauty and joy of this season.
My trusty business partner/virtual assistant, Tracie Shroyer, related that her son and his girlfriend will be far from family this year, spending Christmas on their own. So Tracie suggested ideas to make the holiday fun. Turns out they'd already come up with a list of playful activities. They plan to:
- Make old-fashioned salt-dough ornaments for the tree.
- Rescue a rejected tree on Christmas Eve day and decorate it that night.
- Bake oodles of cookies as gifts for family (they both love to cook/bake).
- Put together a huge puzzle.
Finding the Gift
The art of Aikido calls the attack a gift of energy. Here comes a problematical person, an unexpected event, perceived harm. No one asked for a viral pandemic, and yet it is upon us. I try to wish away the growing political and ideological divisiveness, and yet it seems to be ever present.
Aikido says I can look for the gift. It's a practice, for sure, and one that changes everything. When I do shift my focus and look for the gift I always find one. I also find power to effect change, both in myself and my surroundings. The change has, in fact, already begun with the shift in my focus.
Appreciative Inquiry (AI), like Aikido, is a philosophy and framework that says what we think about is "fateful" -- it determines our future. AI builds on strength and fosters optimism, by anticipating a positive future instead of focusing on the problem. Let's look at what we're doing right, it says, and let that lead us to the solution. Aikido would say, as you direct your ki toward what you want, the problem becomes fuel for designing the solution.
We can look for what we appreciate in life or we can focus on problems. So this holiday season, what will you focus on? It's so easy to be dragged down. It happens to me, too. Just like any practice, however, we can get better at shifting toward what's good, what works, what is there to be loved and appreciated.
Maybe this track from my Christmas CD will help. "Sing We Now of Christmas"
So tell me:
- What cool things will you do this year that you might not have considered without the world-altering pandemic?
- What simple but life-affirming traditions can you bring back if you think about it.
- How will you practice shifting your attention to find the gift?
Wishing you peace, joy, health and love this season and always!
PS -- the image of the luscious cookies is from my sister Deborah Rodin's book, Food For Thought: Elevating the Culinary Experience on Amazon. And the Christmas tree is from my sister Paula Golemba's house last year!