What is connection? What does it mean to truly sit with somebody’s heart, holding and caring for it with such a tenderness that they feel fully seen in our presence?

In being both a mother to my 5 beautiful children, as well as a dedicated wife to Ari, I’ve learnt that connection requires more than just doing. It necessitates conscious doing and listening for the clues behind what truly makes somebody’s heart happy.

When we consciously do, we don’t simply just do out of obligation but rather, because we’ve taken the time out to listen to another’s unique needs and wants. We’ve paid attention to the little things that bring their hearts joy.

In this way, we can always show up for our loved ones even without grand gestures and expensive gifts. We can simply show our love for them by listening to their little requests. I see this as a beautiful act of serving. When we serve others in ways which matter to them, we express that we are willing to love them in ways which make them feel seen and heard. Our expressions of love are never simply about how much love we hold in our hearts to share, but also about whether we’ve paid attention to how they would like to be loved. Love then becomes less about us and more about them. We choose to pay attention because we want to learn more about what lights their hearts up with joy. I’ve witnessed first-hand that when we show up in these ways, a beautiful thing happens: People express how they would like to be loved and when we pay attention, it allows them to show us more of who they truly are. We learn to love each petal of theirs in ways which nourish their roots and help them reach for the sunlight even further.

Ari and I have three different cars at home and my youngest son absolutely loves my husband’s car. On the other hand, it’s not always the easiest car to drive because it feels like a truck and so I try to avoid it and use the minivan which is much smoother, instead. But because I know and see the true joy on his face when I pick him up every single day in his father’s car, I try to do it as often as I can, simply because I want him to feel loved and seen. Picking him up in the truck is his love language and I’m happy to love him in such a small, yet meaningful way. I’ve noticed that whenever I do, his entire face lights up and he gleams with joy, saying, ‘Thank you mommy!’ It makes him so happy, but I can tell you that the ripple effect of this on my heart has no measure of satisfaction. Another child of mine really likes the way I cook a certain food and so I always try to cook it his way, simply to make him feel special. I’ve learnt that when we start showing up like this, others start showing up for us as well.

It brings me such joy to know that the people around me and especially my children, know that I raised them while listening for the clues of how they wanted to be loved and not just how I believed they deserved to be loved.

Ari also expresses his love for me in these small, yet meaningful ways. He waits for me to open the sticker on the top of the new coffee jar, simply so I can have the first smell because I absolutely love it! So much of love is in this small gesture of paying attention to what I like.

I’ve learnt that everybody has these little ways of seeking love. They may speak it without really saying it at all, but if you really pay attention, you’ll notice them. Pay attention to the way their face lights up when they speak or how excited their voice sounds. Although these moments seem small, I’ve learnt that when we pay attention and listen for the clues, our acts of love become the big, defining moments of their lives which they remember even decades later.

We don’t always remember how much money somebody spent on us or the brand of clothing they bought. We tend to remember how we feel in their presence and whether they paid attention and wanted to know our hearts better. We remember that they listened for the clues of how we wanted to be loved and chose to show up for us in those ways. We feel appreciated when they choose to love us in such intricate ways, even though they could’ve easily picked us up in a different car or cooked another meal. Being paid attention to has a profound effect on who we ultimately become. It is a basic human need – to feel seen, be heard and feel like in a world of 7 billion, we truly do matter to at least one person.

Love is so vast, so wide and so intimate and it takes a special kind of listening and paying attention to truly express to another that they do, in fact matter. We don’t always have to show love by buying gifts. We can also show love by simply paying attention on a day-to-day basis.

Maya Angelou always says, “People may forget what you said, but they’ll never forget how you made them feel.”

This Holiday season, consider how you can show up for those around you simply by paying more attention to their little clues. Make a conscious effort to read between the lines of what lights them up with joy and then try to meet them there, halfway. Our relationships tend to flourish when our loved ones feel heard, seen and appreciated in these small, yet significant ways.

The ripple effects of these small gestures on your heart only multiplies.

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