Mindset: I Have Time for Nothing but Love

Reflecting on the celebration of a great leader, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s quote “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.” reminds me of a March 2017 conversation I had with my friend Jessica Muroff. She said, “I have time for nothing but love.” She explained, “if I allow myself to dwell on certain challenges, they will be all-consuming. Instead, I choose to show others love.” That conversation was life-changing. While I had previously strived to be positive, there were times that I dwelled on the negative and felt angry. While human, reflecting back, I allowed a dark Eeyore cloud to depress my mood when I could have focused on the positive. Following the conversation with Jess, I decided that I, too, have time for nothing but love.

Identification of Internal Cheerleader & Naysayer

One of the ways I identified to show people love was to determine my personal hero who excels at it, Dr. Laura Osteen, and the opposite who does not. Dr. Osteen now acts as my internal “love-o-meter” and is pictured at the onset of each difficult situation. A national leadership guru, Dr. Osteen is genuine and authentic and makes everyone feel special, heard, empowered and inspired. Quite literally, her last Facebook message read, “when it rains on your hardwood floors, sometimes the only thing you can do is dance the night away on them.” It would be an honor if people had a “Dr. Osteen experience” when interacting with me. Oppositely, I never want someone to feel like they met my internal naysayer.

Creation of Optimal Interactions
 With these two internal polestars, I intentionally try to create an optimal experience for the people with whom I interact. For example, since deciding that I have time for nothing but love, I verbalize compliments instead of silently observing someone’s awesomeness. I force myself to tell the stranger on the elevator that his outfit is sharp and the speaker returning from the podium that she delivered a riveting keynote. I respond to emails sent by a friend to a group to let her know she is doing an awesome job leading the organization and I forward emails recognizing a colleague regarding how proud I am of his achievement. If a recipient replies to my email requesting information that was included in my message, I don’t inform the sender of the error, I copy, paste and resend the information.

This past week, I used my nothing-but-love mindset when picking-up a birthday cake order first thing Monday morning. The bakery had the cake ready, but had not yet written the personalized message on top. Problematically, all of the icing was hardened from being in the fridge on Sunday when the bakery was closed and it would take too long to make new icing to use for writing. So, the bakery wrote “Happy Birthday, Connie!” on a ribbon and laid it across the cake. It wasn’t what I wanted. As I worried that my friend might question the specialness of her ribbon- laid cake, I considered explaining to the staff why bakeries should have writing icing on hand during all bakery hours. Then, I reminded myself that ending the conversation in such a negative way is not the experience with which I wanted to leave the staff. This is especially true given that I had no idea how the mistake occurred (what if the bakery was short-staffed that morning?) or if I was speaking with the responsible party (versus a co-worker not responsible for icing?). So, instead of providing negative feedback as I might have pre-March 2017, I smiled and told the bakery my friend would love her cake (she did!). The staff looked relieved and I felt joy seeing their smiles that would not have come from an explanation of Bakery 101.

A similar experience occurred when recently waiting for a morning meeting. After 10 minutes, I sent a friendly text asking if the colleague was on her way and informing her of how to reach my assistant and me if further location or parking directions were needed. When no response was received, I texted that I would wait an additional 10 minutes and was excited if she could still make it and understood if that was no longer possible. After another 10 minutes, I texted that I was leaving and hoped everything was okay. That afternoon, the colleague responded with her apologies – a family member was unexpectedly hospitalized and due to the stress of the situation, she forgot to cancel our meeting. I was extra glad that my messages extended love, not judgment. My day was fine not going as planned – while I waited, the “extra” time was used to enjoy a rare sit-down breakfast and send necessary email responses. More importantly given what happened, I would have looked like, and felt like!, a jerk had my messages been negative.

The Challenge: Show Grace 

Inspirational posts about not knowing how others are feeling and extending grace are often shared. But, how often is that mindset actually practiced? Analyze it. Do you consistently show others love? If not, make *that* your challenge this week.  It’s promised that the joy and inner peace you’ll experience from making someone’s day will far outweigh any short-term satisfaction you may (or may not!) experience if you abandon love.

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