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!

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What is Love?

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     I’ve recently been thinking about my life, and how I can live a more fulfilling life. I’d like to be the kind of person who makes others feel better, lift them up, make them feel empowered. But with my own problems to deal with how can I do that, how do I not become another unkind, uncaring, selfish person? The answer is to live a life of Love, Kindness, and Care. This quote from an article I saw summed it up best. (Check out What does Love Want)

Love is like water flowing, dancing down a riverbed. Embracing everything it encounters, water (love) flows smoothly around jagged rocks, finding its way brilliantly into and through the tiniest openings of any obstacle; it never stresses itself to flow uphill or fight against its own perfectly natural way. Sometimes, when amassed in significant strength, the immense force of water’s (love’s) own pure nature can completely obliterate everything in its path!

     A constant though that I’ve been having is that love is more like a state of being’ rather than a list of criteria we have to check off of a list. But how do you get to that state of being, Welcome to your next challenge, it’s not going to be easy, and you will have to battle this daily, but I’m going to stand by this. Of course I’m currently living this new skill, so I’m still in the experimental stage, but others much smarter than me stand by it. Living a life filled with Love, Tenderness, and Kindness isn’t easy, so how do you do it?

     To get a better understanding lets use anger, let’s say you want to get rid of anger or conflict that you’re feeling. Instead of focusing on not getting angry (by the way feelings like anger are normal, you can’t not feel them), focus on being more kind, or loving. One thing to consider is that being kind isn’t about you; you shouldn’t do something kind because you will gain something. You should be kind just because. Because you want someone to get a pleasant experience, or feel loved just because you have a deep feeling that they deserve love.

     So what does this mean, if your goal is to get rid of Rage, Anger, Harsh Words, Malice don’t focus on those feelings, focus on Kindness, Tenderness, and Forgiveness. To compare kindness is easy, it’s liked, it doesn’t worry or cast blame. So by practicing kindness you’ll get one step closer to Love, the state of being rather than a laundry list of things you’re looking to accomplish. Imagine how different the world would be if people were more kind, tender and forgiving. I’ve noticed that in practicing this way of refocusing my life, I’ve felt much better at work, in life, and at home. What’s remarkable is that I feel that people around me are starting to sense that something is different, but now the secret is out. I’ve been meditating, praying and acting with more love, kindness, and forgiveness. So let’s start a trend with us enlightened few, we can start mending the world.