This time of the year is often an emotional roller coaster of feelings that surge to incredible highs and sadly to overwhelming lows. Whether the holidays remind us of times long past or joyful present moments, there seems to be a common component at the heart of it all. That my friends, is the subject of this blog. So the million dollar question? How can we make the most of the holiday season and maybe even, how can we have some of that joyful experience others seems to be enjoying?
I vividly remember how I felt at Christmas when I was a youngster. People seemed nicer then usual. Folks were a little more patient; a little more forgiving and had no problem giving out their love regardless of the receiver. Then, there were those Christmas gifts. One Christmas Eve I woke up in the wee hours (as usual) and caught my Dad assembling a bike (for me)! That’s when I learned that Santa was black, hahaha – I digress! You see, as a young person your focus for the holidays is all about what you are going to get. That’s not unusual, that’s childhood. But there comes a time when your focus changes from what you can get, to what you can give. When our children were very young we did the thing that all parents want to do. We went hog-wild on buying presents. We went wayyyyy overboard! We carefully constructed the “gift stacks” like I remembered from childhood and gleefully anticipated the joy we would see on their faces. And wow, did we see it! But here’s the interesting part for me. I felt (and still feel) more incredible joy over what I can do to make others happy than I’ve ever felt when it was all about me.
Now we are on to something, wouldn’t you say? One of life’s greatest paradoxes is that it is “more blessed to give than to receive.” Oh, receiving is awesome for sure (it doesn’t say it is bad to receive and good to give-it says more blessed!) Blessed means happy. What you get in life is a blessing, but what you can give produces more blessings. God, who carefully planned human interactions and relationships, built into us (on purpose) a happiness meter that goes off the charts when we take time to give to other people. And contrary to what the cynics say, giving isn’t about what is in it for me, it’s about what is in it for them (true giving anyway…). I should add that giving doesn’t always mean buying stuff for people either. Giving is imparting something of yourself for the simple purpose of making someone else happy. Kind words make people happy. Pointing out people’s good qualities makes them happy. Taking time to be a listening, non-judgmental ear for another person encourages their happiness. In fact, anything you give from your heart, whether it be well received or not, will always benefit your heart. It is the very essence of being a human being. Consider the life of Jesus Christ. He spent his whole life putting others first (his whole life) and yet was able to say that he endured all of the suffering that he went through “for the joy that was set before him.”
When we were young life was truly all about us, but when we got older we learned (hopefully) that life wasn’t all about us. The reason so many folks are struggling or depressed or are unhappy or not contented is because they have fallen into the trap called “it’s all about me.” “I don’t have this or I deserve that or when is it my turn or if I don’t look out for me who will(?)” is really an indicator that we have lost our way and forgotten how life really works. I mean what motivates a mother or a father to spend their last penny or work themselves to the bone in order to buy their child that XBox or those shoes or send them on that trip? Love does… which expresses itself through giving. God so loved that He gave, remember? So if you really want to experience that joy you see others enjoying, you have to get yourself into that giving mindset. Yes folks, you have to be willing to put yourself and all of your “stuff” aside for a bit and focus on helping someone else. I don’t mean on the surface, I mean from your heart. I know, I know, it doesn’t seem like you will get your needs met this way, but trust me, it works 100% of the time!
So, when you get together with your family this holiday season (or anyone you care for, for that matter) decide right now that instead of focusing on how uncle Joe always smells or how your Mom gets on your last nerve (no, not my Mom she is awesome!) or how your sister is going to hit you up for money, instead decide to focus on what you can do to make that other person’s day a little brighter, a little better, a little more warm than usual. Just do it! And before you know it, you will find yourself right smack dab in the middle of that joy you were looking for all along.
How can you maximize your joy during the holidays? Give! Not till it hurts, but until that other person stops hurting (at least while they are with you)! You can make that kind of impact and (smile) you should… I learned a long time ago that helping other people truly gave me the most joy and although I still sometimes fall into it being all about me, whenever I recall that it aint about me, things start changing almost immediately.
I hope your holiday times are the best they have ever been and I hope you remember why…
These are just some holiday good thoughts… 🙂