"Christmas is the spirit of giving without a thought of getting. It is happiness because we see joy in people. It is forgetting self and finding time for others. It is discarding the meaningless and stressing the true values."
~ Thomas S. Monson
As we enter the darkest days of the year, it’s time once again to get into the spirit of the season. During this time, it’s only natural that we turn towards friends and family for comfort and warmth, finding joy and connection in each other’s company. But what exactly is the Christmas spirit? Is it all just a corporate ploy to encourage more retail spending, or is there more to it?
What we traditionally think of as the Christmas spirit can also be thought of as a celebration of the human spirit. More specifically, it’s a celebration of the positive side of human nature. It’s the time of year when we collectively emphasize the heart-based emotions, reimagining a world in which selfishness and distrust is replaced by generosity and goodwill to all.
This is also when we temporarily stop trying to make ourselves happy and focus instead on the happiness of others. As the author Toni Sorenson puts it, “The true Christmas spirit is putting other’s happiness before your own and finding you’ve never known such joy!”
So, if you are looking for a way to get into the holiday spirit, one suggestion is to practice kindness wherever you go. A smile, a gesture or some kind words is all it takes. In truth, any words or actions that come from your heart will likely be in line with the spirit of the season. Understand that you create the joy of the holidays, not the other way around. This is only the darkest time of year if you forget to bring your light.
“First forget inspiration. Habit is more dependable. Habit will sustain you whether you’re inspired or not.” ~ Octavia Butler
This week’s quote has the potential to be a real game changer. We are all looking for inspiration- searching for that magical ‘aha’ moment that fundamentally and permanently changes life for the better. While there is nothing wrong with being inspired, inspiration will only get you so far. Inspiration is what motivates you to go out and join a gym but, in the long run, habit is what determines whether or not you become a stronger, healthier, happier person. While inspirational quotes have the power to bring a shift to your thinking, if you are serious about making a positive change, there also needs to be a shift in your habits.
Success in life does not hinge on reaching a perfect understanding of the nature of reality- although that certainly would be nice. Rather, your success is the result of developing and maintaining positive daily habits and routines. In life, change is rarely instantaneous, it’s something that takes place over time. No single action is going to immediately transform your life for the better but repeating that action every day for a month or a year will.
Your daily habits have the power to either make you or break you. If you examine your current habits and find they are not serving you, then this might be the best place to start. Ask yourself why you do the things you do. You’ll find that most of the actions you take today are the same actions you took yesterday- and the day before that. We tend to unconsciously create the same day over and over again, perhaps because it brings us a sense of comfort and familiarity. Therefore, if you are ready to change your daily habits and become the best version of yourself, be prepared to step out of your comfort zone. Breaking out of old behavior patterns is always going to feel strange at first simply because it’s not what you are used to. However, after establishing a new, more positive routine, you will soon find yourself back in the groove.
“If you choose not to find joy in the snow, you will have less joy in your life but still the same amount of snow.” ~ Anonymous
This week’s quote does not need a great deal of explanation. Essentially, it’s a reminder that your happiness should never be dependent on forces that are beyond your control. Many people overestimate the amount of influence they have over the Earth’s weather patterns. When a storm hits, you often hear people taking credit for it, as if they are the prime mover of all events. “Of course it’s raining today,” they claim, “since I just washed my car yesterday.” This egocentric thinking leads to all kinds of unnecessary suffering as people falsely believe that they alone are responsible for everything that happens in the world, both good and bad. To avoid this trap, probably the best thing you can do is stop taking things personally. When the snow starts falling, don’t think of it as nature’s way of punishing you or the world taking revenge on you because of something you did. Instead, accept it as a naturally occurring phenomenon that is beyond your control. One of the hardest things to accept about life is that it is not all about you.
Another point this quote brings up is that there are two ways of looking at any phenomenon. The first way is from the standpoint of appreciation that our world is full of beauty and wonder. People who adopt this viewpoint see the snow falling from the sky as another example of the miraculous nature of the Universe. Others, however, will only see the snow as an inconvenience or a nuisance- a hassle that they will have to deal with. The thing is, whether you go with the first viewpoint or the second one, it's not going to make any difference to the amount of snow that falls. So, the next time you find your heart sinking when you look at the weather forecast, ask yourself if being negative will achieve any purpose or give you any kind of advantage over what happens next. Remind yourself that you don’t control the weather- the only thing you control is your attitude towards it.
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About The Author
Nick Hughes is a massage therapist, yoga instructor and co-owner of Well Being. Influenced by the ideas of Alan Watts, Eckhart Tolle, Ram Dass, and Deepak Chopra, Nick presents his unique take on human existence with the goal of helping others live a happier life.