Do less. Give more.

One of my dearest friends had a birthday on December 11th. She lives in New York and we have a tradition to send each other gifts for our birthdays. Usually a part of the gift is hand-made — we’re both the creative kind, you could say.

The past few months have had me in a whirlwind in every possible way — emotionally, logistically, physically, you name it — so the first time I remembered my friend’s birthday was on December 11th.

I felt like crap. What kind of a friend was I if I hadn’t remembered earlier and hadn’t even thought about her gift?

I sent her a Facebook message to wish her a happy birthday and to apologize for being so late with my card and gift. Here’s what she replied with:

“Thank you! Anytime things become too much we can just send love – no pressure!”

I started to think of all the times I’ve stressed about being late with gifts or running around trying to get a good gift for someone. Sure, my intentions are good when I do this but somewhere in the middle of all the busy and hectic, the intention fades and it all boils down to a to-do.

The gift might be a good one, but I have a lot less love to give with it. Instead I’m filled with stress and some strange sense of accomplishment for getting “it” done.

So here’s a thought: Can we do less and give more?

Maybe instead of putting together a fancy beautiful holiday card to mail, you can send your family and friends a warm email instead?

If the thought of trying to organize a holiday party — at home or at your company, especially if it’s a start-up where no one ever has enough time — raises your blood pressure, why not just get some take out to share together?

If life is feeling too overwhelming, how about skipping that big family vacation you were thinking about and taking some time to chill out at home together instead, maybe planning some local easy trips?

Do less (things, to-dos, stuffs). Give more (love, kindness, yourself, your beautiful inner energy).

Believe me, I am reading the advice I am writing and part of me feels like my mind has been taken over by aliens. I used to be the person who would have all the holiday gifts wrapped weeks in advance, whose parties — at work or at home — would be super awesomely creative, with tons of preparations and fun elements, who would think that only losers would choose to stay home if they could explore a new place they’ve never been.

But the thing is, all that stuff is just dressing. It’s pretty sprinkles, that yes, are fun and good and bring you and the people you share them with some joy, but only if they come on top of something a lot more important:

The joy you feel and share. The kindness and love you feel and share. The ease and light you feel and share.

A few years ago I put together this over-the-top 5 course dinner together at my house — I forget the occasion, but my parents and grandparents came over. The women in my family are amazing cooks and I’m pretty good, but there’s always that bar I’m trying to reach, you know? So I really outdid myself, including printing out menus and decorating them together with kiddo.

By the time everyone came over I wasn’t simply exhausted, I was on empty. Of course it was awesome to hear how everyone enjoyed the meal and to get the “oh, wow!” validation, but I had no joy of my own left to share. I’d put it all into the cooking and preparing and organizing!

At some point, I was in the kitchen getting dessert ready, when my mom walked in. She asked me why I looked so upset, so stressed out — was anything wrong?

“I wish you could relax with us a little,” she said.

It wasn’t a criticism — this I realized a few days after, because of course my initial reaction is the knee-jerk “How could I possibly relax when I was doing all this stuff?!!!” It was a wish that I could have traded one of the ultra-complicated dishes for a little time to give myself to rest before everyone came over.

During these holiday weeks can you have an an intention to do a little less and give more of what we actually want from one another:

Love. Kindness. Smiles. Hugs. Ease. Happiness. Gratitude. Cheer.

And bonus: You don’t even need to wrap any of it.






The incredible power of “What can I do to help?”

Yesterday I had a call with a fellow entrepreneur. A dear friend had introduced us and without a special agenda, we scheduled a call to connect. After the first few minutes of exchanging some greetings and how we both knew the friend who introduced us, I said:

I’m excited to connect and as we talk, please let me know what I can do to help.

I said this before we really dove in and talked about her company, my company, Happier, the new things I am working on, or any other details. I said it before I actually knew what specifically I could help with or if she actually wanted or needed my help. To be honest with you, I surprised myself with the question so early in the conversation but as I reflected on it, I realized I was simply vocalizing my intent to try and be helpful rather than asking anything in particular.

I’ve been on a kick reading Wayne Dyer books — whom I sadly only discovered after his death and was inspired to pick them up based on what I read about him in tributes from others — and I just finished his memoir, I Can See Clearly Now.

In it, he recounts the story of his first meeting with the man who became his first long-time editor. Wayne Dyer was then a no-name author and his agent had set up this big-deal meeting. He waited in the lobby for a long time, eventually to be called in to make his pitch. This was his big chance to get his first book deal. But, as he writes, he noticed something was off with the man he was meeting — he seemed stressed and distracted. So at that moment, Wayne Dyer put aside talking about his book idea and instead asked the man if he could help him in some way. They spent the hour talking about the editor’s life and what he was going through, never getting to the book pitch.

When Wayne Dyer told his agent after the meeting that never mentioned the book, his agent was furious. He had missed his big chance! But the editor called the next day to say that he didn’t care what the book was about, he had found his time with Wayne Dyer so valuable he wanted to publish it.

I didn’t realize how much this story stuck with me until I got on my call yesterday. After originally reading about this incident, I was inspired to think about how I could do something similar in my life — and I don’t mean with editors when I am pitching books (although that’s coming!) And without coming up with a specific plan, I had set this intention in myself to think of how I can help before I think about how someone else can help. When I offered my help to this entrepreneur — who I am certain can help me more than I her — I was simply acting on this intention.

(Not so coincidentally, I am in the midst of his other book called The Power of Intention…)

The entrepreneur and I had a good call, found a lot in common, and came up with a few things we could do together. I enjoyed getting to know her a bit and I hope we do act on some of our ideas. In most ways, there was nothing spectacular or special about this call or the outcome, and I’d done many of these before. But I felt that by starting the conversation the way I did, it helped set the tone for both of us to feel more free and open as we talked, and less concerned with impressing each other or one-upping each other (which, let’s face it, we do sometimes do as entrepreneurs, and well, as people.)

What if you started more of your calls or meetings with this simple question:

What can I do to help?