In my yoga class today, the teacher suggested that we pay attention to our bodies and do what makes ‘being’ sweeter. He was speaking in the context of relaxing and sinking into our exercises, positioning a block to support a knee, perhaps placing a bolster under the head. As I followed his advice and breathed deeper, I knew that he was asking a deeper question too. What makes ‘being’ sweeter?
Rumi, the 13th Century Persian mystic and poet, wrote ‘Through love bitter things seem sweet, through love bits of copper are made gold’. Shakespeare was a big fan of this ‘sweet love’ theme in the 16th Century and in 1975, Syreeta was belting out ‘Your love is sweet, as sweet as candy’.
In 2014, an article in Scientific American published findings of research in the Netherlands. Kai Qin Chan, a doctoral candidate at Radboud University Nijmegen, twice found that when students were asked to write about the love, the fruit pastilles they ate afterwards tasted significantly sweeter than if they were asked to write about, say, jealousy instead. He had to double check, so next he fooled students into thinking the plain old water they were drinking was a soft drink. Guess what? The ones who had written about love, thought the tap water tasted sweeter than the ones who had written about other emotions. Although, strangely, those who wrote about jealousy, didn’t experience more bitterness in their tastes.
So maybe it is love that makes ‘being’ sweeter. Love. It’s not a word that gets bandied about the workplace much. We’re more comfortable, maybe, with words like respect, self-confidence and my personal favourite, ‘unconditional positive regard’. Yet isn’t being kind to both ourselves and others a subset of the genre, ‘love’?
When a coaching client says, “Enough” and starts to look for a new job that takes them away from a toxic boss and an organisation that under values their skill, in my book, that’s self-love. Accurately assessing your expertise, taking time to find the kind of organisation where you can flourish and presenting yourself in a way that is authentic rather than big-headed to a new employer, takes self-esteem and confidence. More subsets of love.
And back to the ‘sweetness of being’. What does it take to make ‘being’ sweeter? Can it just be love?
One client started dog walking in her lunch break. ‘Borrow my Doggie’ app supplied the chocolate Labrador. Her boss supplied the company. Together they surprised themselves by finding a country park in the depths of North London, took time out to gather their thoughts, took a breather and started managing the stress of the week. Their beings looked decidedly sweeter in the photos they sent.
Another discovered that talking in front of the London Assembly as part of a panel wasn’t as terrifying as she thought it would be. More so, it was surprisingly enjoyable. Reminding herself that she had been sought out as an expert when she’d convinced herself she’d been a name plucked from a hat, calmed her nerves and made it even sweeter.
Taking a risk and applying for a job when she had just been turned down for another, paid off for a client, and resulted in both her dream job and a heavy weight falling from her shoulders as it sank in that she was recognised, valued and appreciated. Not least by herself.
Today at yoga, I put a huge bean filled bolster under my knees as I laid back to meditate at the end of exercise. Ah! That bolster felt sweet. Who knew? A little shift that made a big difference. The out-breath came with a bigger sigh than usual. The tension drained. A moment of self-love and kindness and the world seemed a more manageable place, the rush and busy-ness of life back in perspective. The sweetness of being.