Holiday Shopping

This holiday season I challenge you to make a cheerful effort for gift giving, by gifting smart and from the heart:

  • Give more of yourself and less material possessions.
  • Gift in experiences.
  • Avoid the corporate chains and online retailers (Amazon, Ebay, and such), and support local businesses. The best effort we can do is to support our community.
  • Take calculated chances with the gifts you give. There is no fun or growth in staying safe. Mom doesn’t need another pair of socks,  just like the ones you got her last year. And if they don’t like your gift, it was worth a shot; they’re just grateful for the thought and effort anyway.
  • Give a playful gift. One that all parties can enjoy right there during the holiday party.
  • Gift something absurd, and completely ridiculous just for a laugh. How’s THAT for an experience?
  • Don’t just make the family gathering an experience, make the gift shopping an experience too. Go into strange “mom and pops” stores you would normally never go into, with absolutely no plan of purchase at all. You might be surprised at what might catch your eye. This is where the “calculated risk” will likely come into play.

Make holiday shopping fun again, and don’t take it too seriously. Make it playful. This is a time for joy, and we don’t have to prove anything.

Going into Thanksgiving

For most of us Thanksgiving Day is a time for joy as we spend time with our families. A time that we express gratitude and joy as we laugh, eat, drink, …… and maybe even dance. This is absolutely wonderful. But this is only half of what it’s all about. This is the “Thanks” part of “Thanksgiving”.

There are some of us that find Thanksgiving to be a very stressful, or depressing time of year. There are some of us that don’t have families, homes, or means to get a get a decent meal. There are some of us that have broken homes. When Thanksgiving Season comes around, for these people it, only serves to remind them of what others have that they do not. It only serves to remind them how alone, how lonely they are.

Let’s remember this, going into the holiday season (not just Thanksgiving), and maybe give a little of ourselves, our time, to those not as fortunate as we are. Beyond basic kindness and courtesy, let’s extend a helping hand and offer care to those who need it. This is the “giving” part. Because we are ALL brothers and sisters. We are all one family in the end.

Extend your table.

The internal effects of labeling ourselves.

Labels Labels Labels, humans are so obsessed with labels. We need to label everything. And why not, it saves us the trouble of having to communicate and make a real effort to understand ideas. labels are convenient, I get it. Labels are great “shorthand” in a world where we don’t have time.

Example:  A political candidate can go on and on for 30 minutes about his/her beliefs and goal in great detail. OR, they can just say “I am far left Democrat” and you get their entire set of beliefs/goals all at once. Convenient because who wants to spend the time to listen for a half an hour.

We have labels for all complex systems:

Faith: Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Scientology, Pagan, Agnostic, etc.

Political: Republican, Democrat, Right, Left, Far Right, Far Left, Conservative, Liberal, Libertarian, etc. Heck there is even the label “Independent” who don’t want to be labeled. …… but then THIS label has built in it’s own expectations too.

Gender and Sexual Orientation: LBGTQ

I can get into the many ways labeling can be harmful externally, but here I wish to discuss why it is so harmful internally (external effects are discussed in a previous post “Labels”). Unfortunately we as a society have labels too close to the foundation of our societal infrastructure that we almost instinctively use them within ourselves for some sense of purpose and validation. We conform to them at the risk of our own character though. And this is encouraged externally.

I can’t tell you how many people I have seen alter their own belief system to continue to fit in the box, in the label that they are comfortable with.

Example: I have seen a woman who proclaimed herself a die hard Liberal show signs of that she was in favor of the 2nd Amendment in casual conversation, but when she started to realize this in herself, IMMEDIATELY switched her beliefs just so she could still fit in the Liberal Box. She refuses to ever consider voting for a Republican candidate even if she has not heard the policies of either the Democrat or Republican candidate. This is a problem ….. and it’s strait up ignorant.

Too many people refuse to accept that they CAN have a belief system all their own that doesn’t completely fall into some pre-defined label or box. The truth is, naturally, ALL of our beliefs ARE vastly different. We choose to throw ourselves under these labels for security, and simplicity reasons. People want to belong to a group. They do this at great internal risk though; they risk losing their own unique identity. Their own detailed beliefs. They have chosen an established label that best fits their system of beliefs, and then altered their remaining beliefs that don’t conform, to fit into that label. After that “Congratulations, you are now one of us. MWAHAHAHAHA” (sinister cult leader).

We have all kinds of names and labels that stifle us as human beings. A couple such labels I was contemplating recently are “intelligent” and “genius”. Everybody would love to be considered “intelligent.” Internally this is a useless label however, as it sets an arbitrary expectation. And while mental energy is used to consider meeting that expectation, that mental energy could be used to move us foreword, to grow, instead. Worrying about whether or not we are “intelligent” serves only to either inflate or deflate our EGO. Both of which will not serve us at all. It’s a waste of mental energy. This is the reason why people who are extremely intelligent don’t abide by such a labeling as “genius”. These people are too focused on growth to have an ego in the first place. To them such labels only serve to segregate them.

This stands true for ALL labeling though. It’s an external social construct that we have taken internally, and as a result has hindered our ability to communicate, to understand, and to let our true selves shine through.

We would do well to lose the mental clutter of labels, and instead follow our beliefs and passions unhindered by them.