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Calisthenics for the Brain

It is good to stretch your mind to see how many ideas you can conjure up that will shed more light on a subject. For example: A few years ago, I visited a social service agency as a part of my duty to monitor County services. While I was there, I participated in a group exercise designed to help clients improve their conversational skills. The object was to demonstrate self-confidence when speaking with people, especially people who were potential employers. A counselor asked each of us seated around a table just one question, and we were supposed to give our answers when she called on us.
The question was, “What is your gift?”
At first, I didn’t know what she was talking about and it soon became clear that I wasn’t the only one. As she coached people on how to respond, it was obvious that she was trying to get them to name their best qualities. If you think about what “best qualities” might mean to people who lacked self-confidence, you can understand the confusion. By the time it was my turn, I had figured out a way to move the conversation quickly by me. I said my gift was my decision to use my time to visit the center and meet everyone. People seemed to like what I said, and I was happy for that. I could have said more. Modesty and a sense of propriety got in the way. The exercise was about them, and not about me.
The counselor’s question turned out to be a good one for me because I still think about it. It floats through my mind when I have occasion to question myself or others. It is something I can muse about it and I find that it clears my thinking on a multitude of subjects, including self-confidence.
In this Holiday Season, the definition of “gift” normally widens to include personal contributions such as time, devotion, friendship, and encouragement. These are the gifts you won’t find later in a mangled heap at the dump. These are the gifts that make our community grow. These are the gifts we need to recycle so more people can benefit from their healing powers.
In my opinion, at least a part of our Holiday thinking should run along these lines. And oh yes, don’t forget the exercise piece, or the peace piece either.