Hi everyone, we would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a very happy, peaceful and safe holiday with loved ones and friends. Thank you for your support over the years!
Marian and Brett
Late last Saturday night, I was walking the dog in sub-zero temperatures and heard someone’s footsteps behind me. I turned to see a young man clutching a pizza box. I smiled and quipped, “Great night for a hot pizza!” He grinned, telling me he had just made it himself at a restaurant where he worked. “Would you like to see it?” he beamed, proudly displaying his steaming creation as we walked. The melted cheese covered mysterious lumps and bumps I couldn’t make out in the darkness, but it all smelled heavenly. And then it came…
“Would you like a piece?” he offered. It took a moment to register what he had asked. I was blown away. It was a small pizza to begin with and he was a total stranger. I was so touched and warmed by his spontaneous generosity that I smiled the rest of the way home. (And whenever I recall it.)
Good experiences happen all the time yet, we often don’t attend to them and really let them sink in. When we do savour positive experiences, psychologist Fred Bryant has shown that it actually intensifies our positive response to them. According to Marc Lewis at U of T, the longer something is held in awareness and the more emotionally stimulating, the more neurons fire and thus wire together, and the stronger the trace of it becomes in our memory. As psychologist Rick Hanson explains, actively savouring a good experience for 5, 10 or even 20 seconds has the effect of changing the structure of our brain in a positive way. Having positive feelings today sets us up for more positive feelings tomorrow, increasing our optimism and resilience over time.
In my interchange with the young man, there was a mutual joy that was palpable. And for me at least, one that lasted far beyond the interaction…
Generosity has the power to cut through habits of self-absorption, stinginess and doubt as to whether we have anything of worth to give. If we don’t have pizza to offer, we have the gift of our wholehearted presence and respect. And that’s something to feel good about.
- choosing a day to practice generosity from the moment you wake up. See how many ways you can give in one day. Notice your intention, how it feels to give, and others’ reactions. See how it feels to reflect on it at the end of the day. (Adapted from Tsultrim Allione.) Let it sink in.
- practicing generosity in your attitude toward yourself… Especially in the places where you tend to be critical.
- letting go of perfectionism, running around trying to find the “perfect” gift, making the “perfect” meal… Remembering the holidays are all about relaxing, connecting and counting our blessings.
We wish you a healthy 2014,
Marian & Brett