It’s that time of year again. The crunch, the credit, the ka’ching of the register, the stress, the bustle, the cold, the weary, the depression: Christmas.
It can mean so many different things to so many different people, but deep inside many of us just want it to mean loved ones, time spent together, laughter, joy and peace—quality not quantity. So where did we all jump track into the craziness that is now a commercial, superfluous holiday?
It doesn’t matter how we got here, or why; what does matter is honouring what we really want deep down inside, and finding ways to articulate that to others.
So much of our lives are spent saying the words ‘should’ or ‘shouldn’t’. In our book LIFE, we have a trick to try and help our readers become aware of this knee jerk reaction, this unconscious crux. We call it the SOS alert – the ‘should or shouldn’t’ alert. Whenever we say the words should or shouldn’t we need to stop and pay attention. Usually a ‘should’ or a ‘shouldn’t’ in both our internal or external dialogue means we are not thinking for ourselves; it means we are being influenced by the expectations, judgments and opinions of others. For example, say you would like to buy everyone a share in a well in a third world country. But you stop yourself and say, I ‘shouldn’t’ do that, my mother-in-law, or brother or______ (you insert the name), would not appreciate that. They are all expecting gifts, so you cave and buy the gifts: which leaves you with a hollow feeling in your gut—a reluctance, a sadness. You have allowed yourself to be swept up in other people’s expectations, rather than listening to your own wants and desires.
The key thing to notice is ... does it feel good? How you feel about a decision, a choice, an action or a thought is a big indicator of whether or not you are following what will ultimately make you happy versus, what you ‘believe’ you ‘should’ do to make everyone else happy.
We are here to live in happiness and fulfillment every day. If you want to give big, extravagant gifts for the holiday season, wonderful, but make sure you are giving for the right reasons. Ask yourself, do I feel pressured to give these particular gifts, do I feel as though everyone expects me to cook the big turkey dinner, am I doing this because I genuinely want to, or is there a spectre of expectation? If you cannot afford it, if there is stress created because of it … stop, reconsider what you are doing, and try to find a way to honour how you feel, and what you feel is right. Those who get the beautiful card telling them that the money normally spent on their gifts, just bought a village a goat, or helped to save the rainforest, or protect the polar bears, may not leap up with big whoops of glee, but inside you will feel the good that comes from being authentic and honouring yourself.
Marissa Campbell and Annemarie Greenwood
Authors of LIFE: Living in Fulfillment Every Day