For Tis The Season Month, here are some random things I’ve been thinking are good things for me to work on as Christmas comes around….
Complain Less/Appreciate More
George Bailey learned it the hard way: sometimes when you dwell on the negative, it can send you over the side of a bridge on a snowy night and through a long, harrowing black and white tour of the world without you. So, anyhow, I’m going to stop it- even though that movie did end with George getting a hat full of money. Which would be nice.
There is something to be said for the season of giving being a season of remember that what I’ve already got is pretty great and that I spend a little too much time being tripped up by small inconveniences and tiny problems that are a luxury to be even able to complain about. Wow, do some people have really, really horrible circumstances they need to deal with. Perspective is so key.
Complaining is often a waste of time better spent solving a problem or switching to a better mental direction. Something I am trying to embrace more is that life isn’t perfect and when I expect things to work out just “so”, I will be disappointed. It’s better to roll with the punches with an open mind. Also, if I’m complaining about what isn’t going “right,” I may miss out on something cool and unexpected in that moment. For instance, maybe when that computer glitch knocks me off the internet, that line is long, or that light’s always turning red when I get there, there’s something else going on in that moment that I can pay attention to and get something out of.
Part of the crassness of the commercialization of Christmas is that it makes us think we don’t have enough, that what we got last year needs to be updated. And it’s hard to resist when everything is so shiney and discounted. I know it is for me at least. But I want to focus on what I have, not just stuff of course, but the people in my life, the big things that count, like health and opportunity. I think contentment is a big source of “comfort and joy.”
So, between realizing my life is pretty good and looking at problems as opportunities for progress, it seems like “quit complaining/ appreciate more” is a good thing to work on this season.
Help More/Use Compassion
I reflect on the line of that Christmas carol (which can be either good or bad depending on the recording…) – Do You Hear What I Hear, where it says – “a child shivers in the cold/let us bring Him silver and gold.” For those of us of a Christian pursuasion, what is the modern equivalent of bringing tribute to Jesus? I think it’s giving to others shivering in the cold, for real or metaphorically. (Isaiah 58:10).
I know I talk a lot about donating. In fact, maybe one mistake I’ve made with this blog is focusing too much on links where people can donate money and not enough on analyzing things or reflecting or opening up discussions. In any case, I still think it’s important to look out there, see people who are doing effective and good things, and help them out if you care about the cause. The donation can be in money or stuff– people are always looking for coats and gloves and all that around this time of year. I am trying to keep things kind of even – money I spend on loved ones and money I spend for people in need. I’ll let you know how that turns out lol.
And the thing is, people help me all the time. I can’t say a day goes by when things aren’t better in my life because someone is helping me out. I want to focus on having an outlook beginning this month where I’m trying to focus more on how I can help other people- people I know, people I don’t – anywhere I am. This is the perspective I was raised with and I’d like to bring it more into my daily life.
I think if you’re a parent, you do so much for your kids that it’s easier to be like this (well, “easier” may not be the right word lol). But when you don’t have kids, you have to find other ways to stay in help-mode.
As for compassion, there are many times when I get angry at someone without having compassion for what they might be going through (“everybody’s got a battle”), or that I just don’t take a second to care about the other guy. That’s part of being human (duh) but I think we’re supposed to aim for better.
Christmas is a season, for Christians, of celebrating the birth of a self-sacrificing savior who also preached compassion– towards everyone, right – enemies, everyone. If you’re more secular, think of the main point of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol – combating the mentality of “are there no prisons? are there no workhouses?”– saying that satisfaction and meaning in life comes from caring about other people’s lives.
Compassion- for the less fortunate, the people who are different from you, and even for yourself. Sometimes we beat up on ourselves too much, don’t we? Tis the season to be jolly and compassionate. So, I’ll try for that.
Enjoy the atmosphere and the moment The other day I was driving down the street. People’s yards were decorated. Christmas music was playing on my radio- and good songs, too, not the carols that suck (lol…). I was thinking: this stuff is really brightening my mood. I think sometimes the Christmas “ambience” can be overkill to the point it suffocates us- especially all those ads. But the other side of it is, some of that stuff is really nice – and I’m going to make an effort to appreciate it in the moment, enjoy it and, when possible- help create it.
One part of this, I was thinking, is decorating. There aren’t a lot of times in life when you can decorate for a holiday a few weeks in advance and enjoy it. Why not turn my apartment into some place warm and festive. I think I’m mainly in charge of outside. I’ve got to get cracking on that- though not in full Griswold fashion. And I think the lesson is sometimes if you want to enjoy your environment you have to create an environment you’ll enjoy.
So, these are just some of my Christmas thoughts, about ten days out from the day. It’s late now, so, thanks for reading, and to all a good night.