The end of the year is a special time of transition. In many cultures, it is important to enter the new year with debts paid and quarrels settled so we can refresh our relationships with others.
Unfortunately, in our modern society, the crazy-busy season from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day can be anything but conducive to renewal and reflection. Many people feel overwhelmed by the crush of activities, family obligations and expectations for the “perfect” holiday extravaganza. In fact, the dysfunctional over-the-top holiday dinner with the extended family has become a Hollywood cliché.
Instead of approaching the festivities with dread, why not give the gift of truly listening? If your holidays include a gathering of relatives from far away, find someone you haven’t seen for a while and make time to catch up. Be genuinely interested in what they have been doing, what changes they may have been going through, their plans for the coming year and beyond. Listen more than you speak, and ask questions that show you really care about how the other person is feeling.
The sense of connection such a simple, heart-felt conversation can create may seem like a Christmas miracle, but it’s the sort of experience that we can all share throughout the year by simply listening deeply.
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