“If you try to buy Christmas with a credit card, you’ll miss the point. It’s not for sale. True Christmas spirit can only be given away and the price it demands is a piece of your heart.”

For those of you who are not studying for the SAT or LSAT, let me remind you that the original definition of a polyglot is a person who speaks at least six languages. (Although today, the term commonly implies being able to speak more than two languages fluently.) Hence the title of today’s newsletter and its implied question:  Can you speak five languages?  Effectively?

Today’s newsletter is about the “languages of love” and is the promised follow-up to last week’s newsletter that focused on the topic of Holiday Depression and the antidotal prescription for a happier time in December.

Thanks to the wisdom of Dr. Martin Seligman as chronicled in the last newsletter, we indicated that happiness flows to us via activities that we enjoy that also benefit others.  But what form does that preferred activity take?  And perhaps more importantly, does that activity accurately meet the needs of the person we seek to help in some way?

Those questions take us to the work of Dr. Gary Chapman.  His very popular book, The Five Love Languages, provides a method for becoming a more effective “lover” for all the important people in our lives: be they a spouse, friend, child, or relative.

Many of us are already familiar with Chapman’s “languages:” 

  1. Gifts – thoughtful shopping and purchases for others
  2. Service – providing a helping hand for those we love
  3. Affirmations – notes, cards, letters and compliments
  4. Physical touch – warm handshakes, shoulder pats, and backrubs as encouraging gestures
  5. Undivided Attention –  eschewing glances at the TV to really listen to our partner or friend’s experiences and thoughts

So let’s see if we can connect Seligman’s research with Chapman’s directives for effective relationships.  One of Chapman’s suggestions for all of us is:

         Speak the language of your loved one, not your own.

For example, although you may enjoy shopping, your widowed aunt may not appreciate the sweater you purchased for her.  But she values a visit from you and the thoughtful gesture that the visit would represent.

So let’s go back to our topic of “holiday elation.”  Seligman tells us that our happiness flows from enjoyed activities that benefit others.  So what do we know about those that we wish to support or express our caring in some way?  Which of Chapman’s “five languages” resonates best with them? 

Think about that and plan accordingly. You will become a skillful “lover” and be appreciated for it.  In so doing, you will begin to transcend your own legitimate basis for sadness and grief and move toward a happier and more satisfying holiday season.

Homework:  Start making your list.  Check it twice. Then begin to generate happiness for others by speaking their “language.”  In so doing, you will provide a basis for your own satisfaction and contentment.  Give it a try!

Temporary Santa,:”He says presents aren’t important, but I think they are- not because of how much they cost, but for the opportunity th