A few weeks ago my children, spouse and I began a new tradition: The circle of love. This idea emerged from our informal ways of celebrating each other’s wins, sparking meaningful conversations during dinner and sharing loveable experiences. We beta tested the concept the weekend before New Year’s day during our end-of-year trip. So far, we love this new way of life.
What is the Circle of Love?
In an increasingly stressful world, we easily lose sight of what genuinely matters. The circle of love concept is a simple yet powerful way to connect with your loved ones, instill an attitude of gratitude and inject a dose of “feel good” (otherwise known as dopamine) experience in your life. The goal is to build enough positive momentum to rise above daily stressors so we can better serve our loved ones.
How to Implement the Circle of Love Concept
As my children, husband and I settled in our hotel room in Philadelphia, we reflected on our challenges and wins in the past few years. We also spoke about some goals we like to accomplish in 2019.
One highlight of the discussion was around our travel experiences; specifically, whether we liked the foods offered in the hotels. I kick-started the conversation by mentioning that one of the most unpleasant vacations I’ve taken was our visit to the Atlantis Resort in Nassau, Bahamas. Although I believe the resort is a beautiful architectural masterpiece with an add-on of super fun activities, while there I couldn’t bear the thought of having to order another meal from their premises. During our 6 day stay, I suffered as I chose from a variety of not so tasty fast food options. This experience distracted me from engaging in the wonderful on-site activities.
As you could imagine, my kids challenged my perception of this trip. Their experience was one of enjoyment, excitement, and novelty. My eldest even said he wouldn’t mind moving into the resort. My husband then stirred the conversation a bit more by adding that he partly shared feelings with all of us.
Although the conversation was fruitful and allowed us to explore each other’s worldview it felt forceful. The overall engagement was good but lack authenticity. Shortly after we change topics and carry on with our activities.
Later that evening, I craved to eat authentic Philadelphia cheesesteaks. After carefully reviewing a list of establishments in Willow Grove, Philadelphia, we stopped by D & M Philly Cheesesteaks and Wings. We placed our order and waited in their nearly empty seating area. I wondered why it was empty at 8 pm but then realized that we were not in NYC where restaurants are crowded with people till late hours. 20 minutes later, dinner was served. This is when it happened. The enlightenment moment!
I noticed how we loosed up, smiled and shared stories about our past dining experiences. My husband debated whether he should try the bacon cheese fries. He worried that the cheese would not do him well. My youngest son expressed his frustration about eating fries, reminding us he doesn’t like french fries. The 2 eldest exchange their thoughts about the size of their cheesesteaks and unexpected ingredient (pepperoni). And I, as usually observed what was taking place around the dinner table. I then jumped in and shifted the direction of the conversation by introducing the elements of what makes up the circle of love.
Circle of Love Anatomy
We all seek to belong to something greater than us. However, finding the “something greater” piece can be a challenging task, especially when we are too busy talking about ourselves. So how do we move from the mindset of “how it affects me” to “how it affects us”?
Take the time to identify a shared value, practice or belief that equalizes the playing field and invites your loved ones to play. This process makes the game an anchor point that sparks the connection amongst all team players. If you want to connect with your loved ones it is important to play a game everyone understands.
In our case, the “something greater” was desiring to eat something we all like but rarely have. Sure, we go out to dinner all the time but mostly, we visit the same places and order similar meals from the menu. By visiting an establishment outside our “safe zone”, we invited our brains to step into a familiar game but in a different field. This process alone shifted our mindsets from “knowing” to “wondering”. We prime our awareness to experience openness.
Have you ever tried hard to practice gratitude yet something seems to always get in the way? You are not alone, most people don’t have the time to reflect on the things that truly matter. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t take tiny steps to help you instill this practice in your life.
As the lead inspirational person in my family, once a day, I shout out the words “circle of love”. Everyone is familiar with the phrase so they quickly take a break from the task at hand and gather around me. We then form a circle and hug each other. This simple task may seem silly to many but I promise that the effects are life-changing.
Of course, I don‘t expect for you to shout out “circle of love” in a public space but you can cue your loved ones to come together in a “socially acceptable” manner. For example, while we were having dinner, I interjected the conversation by suggesting that we quiet down for a minute, breathe, look around and take it all in. It’s amazing how this tiny action shifted our attention to be more present and grounded. It also helped us come closer and open to what we had to say.
We love it when people highlight our greatness and show their appreciation for the little things we do in life. Sadly, we don’t always experience feelings of worthiness. Sometimes all we need is a gentle reminder from the people closest to us that we are on the right track. And, yes we can hope and wish for the day that this happens but in the meantime is important that you consciously feel good because doing so inspire your loved ones to feel good too.
The best way to bring this out on one another is to show that we genuinely care. By celebrating each other‘ authenticity instead of external achievements. Yes! we should celebrate our wins but if we solely focus on this, we may lose sight of the role that our core human capabilities play in our loved one’s lives.
In our family, we all share one reason we love each other. We typically add this element while we hug but if we are traveling or in public; we share it at the dinner table or downtime between activities. For example, back in Philadelphia, we each share something special about each other around the table. By the time we finished our meal, everyone appeared happy, relaxed and lighthearted. This practice increased our self-esteem which builds up confidence, stamina, and self-respect.
Dare to Try it?
Although this concept is abstract, it can significantly alter the direction of your life. Perhaps, you wish to connect deeply with your partner, children, or family members. Maybe you seek to explore your colleagues or employees’ worldview. I challenge you to try it! You may not see result instantaneously but I promise that in a few weeks your perspective will expand. If you take on this challenge, I would love to hear about your experiences. Come back to this post and share your story!