Have you ever noticed what makes it easy for you to do your best—to live at your most optimal, joyous, even most productive self?
Or, conversely, have you ever been in a job where one of your struggles is that you know you are not “performing”…or even existing…as the best of who you are, or could be? Why is that? What are the influences…?
Here is a theory—test it out on yourself or someone close by. A loved one who may benefit from being encouraged.
The theory is that we mature into our best self when those around us take delight in us. (I want to give credit to whoever noticed this—I got the info from Dr. Gordon Neufeld, but there were also researchers who studied this, if I remember correctly. Can’t find sources, but Kudos to whoever thought to study this).
So let’s just go with our own gut instincts on this. Do you do better when people take delight in you?
(Me? Yes. And when I dig deep, I want to know not just that there is One who delights in me, but I want to feel and see and “know”—experience—that delight.)
But let’s get back to that “test the theory” moment I had just a few words back. Here is a challenge for you today. Choose someone you love, but who may appear to be struggling…not quite living in their optimal self.
Do not TALK about delight (don’t even use the word)…but find three or four ways to express your delight. How you greet them in the morning…how much time you take to sit down beside them and listen…a hug if they like hugs, a tickle if that makes them laugh…a new game to play together…or sing them a song that you love, and dance. If you manage to make them laugh, so much the better. OR, go a step further. Do something that they like to do but you just barely tolerate—make a lego creation, play an online game, watch a movie that isn’t your cup of tea. Choose to be present to this person, engaged in their day, with your delight in being with them—seeing them for who they are, knowing that they are a gift. Because they are. Each human is essentially a gift.
Take a whole day if you can! Dedicate it to delight. Give the gift of delight generously. Supersize it…give even more delight if something goes wrong. Hold onto your tongue if they are 3 years old and just poured a $50 bottle of face cream down the drain—yup, it happened (to me!) (The face cream was a gift. You get the picture!)
You do get to say that is sad (and maybe even cry a little so you can get back to the test). But if they can come out of the test with the knowledge that pouring cream down the drain is not okay, but nothing has been damaged in the love department where delight is “produced” (born is a better word, probably…)
If delight can stay intact even through the tough stuff: You win. Your human “test” wins. Love wins.
Basically everyone wins. And I think, if you are watching, you will see the best coming out in the human you chose to invite into your experiment of this theory.
Humans flourish when they have roots that have been established in delight.
I think that is the original design of “us”—as humans—and I love that it still works even after centuries of being mis-handled (or neglected, or squeezed out).
Oh, and when your experiment day is over, don’t forget to start it again tomorrow…(and don’t miss how good it made you feel, too).
I write on how humans develop and grow through challenges we face. I've divided this into three categories--Growing Love is about relationships and how we create conditions for growth despite the inevitable challenges. Cloudburst is about grief, specifically—which is a tricky topic. We need to keep growing but pushing is the opposite of helpful. And in Dancing on Hot Sand I talk about personal inner growth in hard places—spiritual growth, without sounding religious, I hope.