Christmas Day is Almost here!!!

Christmas dinner table

It’s almost that time of year, to sit and gather with family and friends. Some are fortunate that circumstances have allowed it, and you can gather with others. There are other’s who’s circumstances haven’t allowed them the time to gather with others, whether it’s being in a foreign country, military service, finances, or other reasons. Christmas has long been a time for people to gather together, to share time and gifts with each other. Christmas has also been one of those times where some feel forced, you spend time with people who you can’t wait until that time ends, so that you can go back to your separate lives. If that describes your family dinner, this post is mostly for those folks, but with some good tips for others.

The Sun will rise tomorrow, don’t be surprised when it does:

When your family member does those annoying quirks that drive you crazy, take a step back and breathe. A few weeks ago I was talking to a friend who was venting to me about someone else. I sat and listened, then I asked 1 question, “how many times before have they responded in this exact manner to a similar situation.” Of course the answer was “he always does this.” So if someone always responds in a certain way, why would you be surprised when they do? It’s like going to bed tonight knowing that the sun will rise, then when you wake up tomorrow, be completely surprised that the sun is there. Instead of being  surprised then somehow angry when your family member does that one thing that always annoy you, expect that the’ll do it. No it won’t stop you from being angry, but you will get over it faster. I’m most certain Christmas isn’t about anger but rather joy and piece. Spend the most of your time being happy, it’ll make the time much more enjoyable.

Family are people, people are annoying, so therefore family are annoying:

As in the earlier part don’t focus on being angry. We all have our unique quirks about us, take those quirks as an opportunity to learn more about who they are. Use those quirks as part of a puzzle, each part shows a clearer picture of who the person is. Why not have a conversation about it, of course asking “why are you such an idiot, why do you do that stupid thing when …” might not be a good way to start that conversation. Imagine that you have a backpack full of information about the people you know. The contents of that backpack can only be used for good, they are not there so you can take them and beat people of the head with them. It’s always fascinating learning new things about people, whether it’s annoying or likable. People love to talk about themselves, use the time at your family gatherings to learn more about them and their lives. I’ve found a remarkable thing happens when you open up, being vulnerable is an opportunity for growth. I’ve found that sharing my thoughts have brought me closer to some, have thought me things about myself, and I have found thing in common with the most unexpected people. So why not use the time with your family and friends to learn more about them, is there a situation or a particular triumph or hearth ache that you shared? Of course the caveat is you can’t share everything with everyone, some people don’t need to know everything. However that’s the beauty of being vulnerable, sometimes you put things out there not knowing what will come back to you. I’ve found it a very refreshing experience for the most part though. So share more with them other than some random gift, you haven’t seen them all year, how could you possibly know what they want for Christmas.

You can choose to be happy or sad, for the most part anyway:

I’ve been a bit crabby the past week, last week I was sick and in bed, but this week I have no excuse. Not being able to be with my family and being single I guess has it’s effect on me too. A few weeks ago I read a post on The Daily Love about being happy about being single during the holidays, I thought that was crazy but the writer had a point. Many of the things we do in life is about choices, we can choose how we want things to go, well to a certain extent. But here I was yesterday despite all the positive and good vibes things I read, I was still being crabby for no reason. I was at work doing something I love, it was festive and Chritmasee, and I was being crabby. I asked myself is there any reason why I’m feeling like this, is anyone other than me preventing my happiness? That was all set into motion by a friend asking me why I had not written anything this past week. Well I learnt a few things there, first off someone actually reads my post?? and that I was being silly by sulking. After I snapped out of it, despite being on my feet for hours, I actually had a good time. I was pleasant, interacted with people, even when they acted like idiots. When I approached them in a pleasant manner they stopped acting like idiots. Just as I made a choice to be happy, the same applies to you and your family. You can choose not to be angry or upset, especially when someone does something that you expect them to do.

So as you spend time with family and friends, first remember that people will be annoying. If they are people you’ve known your whole life, it shouldn’t surprise you when they are that way. Don’t be mad, choose to not let their behavior upset you. Lastly take the time to form a deeper connection with them, get to know THEM better. That could also be an opportunity to be vulnerable, share in your triumphs and pain, see where that goes.

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Tis the Season!

Christmas

I thought I’d deviate from my usual writing about self-improvement, or general optimism and talk about something even more important. What is life? Is it about amassing great possessions so that we can brag to our friends about what great things we’ve gained? Is it about accomplishing your dreams despite what damage it may do to others? While each person has their own unique vision for their life, for me living isn’t about just you. It’s about being in harmony with everything around you. It’s about giving everyone the same opportunities. While I welcome the holidays, sometimes I feel as though some have forgotten the true meaning. Christmas is a time for family, and giving, and sharing with others. To some extent that’s true, but we’ve been told since child hood that it’s about the birth of Jesus. Being christian myself, I welcome that thought, that people that don’t believe in Christ; will acknowledge him. While it’s no consolation, it’s a good start. What did Jesus believe then? There are so many things to list, but a few of the basic tenants were to LOVE others (despite their sins, status, or beliefs) and giving to those in need. I bring this up because I believe that we’ve gotten away from those tenants. Christmas has become about giving presents, and buying bigger and better outlandish gifts. Sure you should give to others, but giving something to someone who has plenty rather than someone who has none, I believe is a deviation of what Christmas was about.

Man of the YearAlthough I’m not Catholic, I admire what the new Pope is saying. Some of those tenants I’ve mentioned above are the ones he’s embracing, and he’s chastising those who have forgotten them. I commend his boldness, for getting back to what Christ is all about, LOVE and helping the needy. Of course there are those out there who have negative things to say, he’s challenging what we have become. Instead of helping humanity be better, and making this world better for everyone. Many of us have been too self absorbed, busy with our lives, fighting for that next new shiny thing. For me I like that a religious figure, and one that is trying to make humanity a better place, is the focal point of discussion. Despite some of the negative comments, and even those that this post might evoke. I like that someone is out there challenging the status quo. I think we have been idolizing celebrities who are just like some of those shiny objects we work so hard to gain. They’re here one day, then forgotten the next. In case you didn’t know, Nelson Mandela recently passed. He has been such an iconic figure, and he died knowing that he made a difference in the world. I think it’s remarkable that he lived to see what he had done. So many of our icons never get to realize their dreams.

There is still plenty of hope in humanity though. I’ve heard of so many examples of this during the week, people helping others and giving to those in need. The one that touched me the most is what a group of kids in Alabama did. Some of you might have heard of the 6th Avenue Baptist Church in Birmingham Alabama. It’s good to see while it became famous for tragedy, people rose up from that tragedy, and started a movement. It’s one of the catalyst for another one of our most iconic figures, Dr Martin Luther King Jr. It’s good to see that after all these years, it’s still a source for good things in the world. If you don’t mind your heart strings being pulled, check out Alabama Cub Scouts raise money for K.I.N.D Fund. I heard of another story on the radio today also. A local car dealership owner in San Diego paying for people’s lay-away bills at Walmart and Kmart. These are the kind of stories that remind me what what Christmas is really about.

So I challenge you, don’t forget what specific holidays are about. Don’t become one of those people who doesn’t show love, or comfort, or give to someone who truly needs it. If you feel so inclined to give, don’t just give to those around you who may already have. Why not give to someone who needs it, to someone who your gift of love will actually make their lives better. I was speaking to my friend about love a few weeks ago, and he repeated something I vaguely remember saying, but apparently it resonated with him. He asked me “should I feel guilty about giving, or about feeling good about giving?” My response went something like this.

Love is self-less, it doesn’t concern it self with what others think, it’s also in harmony with EVERYTHING around it. Love is kind, and doesn’t expect anything in return. Love is the way it is just because, it doesn’t expect a reward for what it does. And most importantly love really doesn’t care weather you like it or not. To know if you’re doing something out of love ask yourself. Why am I doing this, do I expect something from this? Another good way to measure if you’re doing something out of love is this. When you do something for someone and they don’t acknowledge you, what’s your reaction? Do you thing, you ungrateful %$^&*. If that’s your response, well chances are you didn’t do that thing for love. Well not the kind of love that was just talked about above.

As we get closer to the Holidays, let’s all do a little part to make the world better. There are many causes that help promote good, why not take a small portion and give it to a cause that will be life changing. I know sometimes I don’t give when I should, the voice in my head says “but what is your little money going to do anyway.” The answer of course is that you can give a desk to a child who has never seen one, or it can provide food for a whole family, and so many other causes to many to list. A thought was echoed by Laurence O’donnell earlier this week, one of those children you help could help cure cancer, or solve a world problem, or so many other great things. By giving to someone in need, you’re helping grow humanity and make it better for all, all by doing one simple act of kindness. Wow that’s powerful, not that’s what the Christmas spirit is about!