The Empowering Effect of Delight
Yesterday would have been my dad’s 80th birthday. While we were reflecting on my dad’s life something magical came up! Both my brother and I recalled how we deeply miss the ability
to tell my dad the good things happening in our lives and to hear his pleasure in our accomplishments.
My dad delighted in us! He celebrated us and cheered us on at every turn. It was a powerful gift. He created an environment where we were loved first then challenged and it gave us tremendous freedom.
One of my mentors referenced a study* which talked about what made great athletes. Hundreds of college athletes were asked to think back at what their parents had said to them that, “made them feel great, that amplified their joy during and after a ballgame.” What was their overwhelming response? Six words that made all the difference: “I love to watch you play.”
Delight. Delight is finding great joy, pleasure and enjoyment in someone or something.
Writer Rachel Macy Stafford relays this story when she began to understand the power of delighting in her children:
“I bent down, looking straight into the blue eyes sheltered behind pink spectacles and said, “I love to watch you play your ukulele. I love to hear you sing.” It went against my grain not to elaborate, but I said nothing about the dots, nothing about the notes, and nothing about her pitch. This was a time to simply leave it at that. My child’s face broke into her most glorious smile – the one that causes her eyes to scrunch up and become little slices of joy. And then she did something I didn’t expect. She threw herself against me, wrapped her arms tightly around my neck, and whispered, “Thank you, Mama.” And in doing so, I swear I could read her mind: The pressure is off. She loves to hear me play; that is all.”
One of the greatest gifts we can give our children, or anyone, for that matter, is the gift of delight. Delight takes the pressure off of performance and frees us up to thrive as people.
It has been said that we can’t give what we don’t have. Do you believe it? If you do not believe that you are loved and worth delighting in, it is hard to communicate that truth.
Challenge: Dig into this concept so that you too can receive the gift you desire to give.