Christmas Day draws nigh but the preparatory frenzy has still not quite abated. How often these days do we hear that the whole thing has gone completely mad and got out of hand? How many times are you aware of people complaining that it’s just become one big commercial hype to get us to spend money?
Once upon a time, it wasn’t like this because the way we lived was different. There was no internet, no social media, no advertising in the way we know it today, no credit cards, and there was less pressure and less speed. Children got stockings at the end of their beds on Christmas Day filled with things like colouring pencils and pencil sharpeners and gold covered chocolate coins, and there was always a tangerine in the toe of the stocking. If they were lucky, they got one additional present from their parents, and maybe one or two from the odd uncle or aunt. They didn’t get expensive toys or designer clothes. Nowadays because advertising isn’t only aimed at adults, but at children, too, kids suffer a lot of peer pressure about what to wear and what kind of must-have object they need to acquire. We, as grown-ups have long been subjected to this same insidious coercion which is instrumental in driving us to spend lavishly at Christmas, (even though we often can’t afford to do so), instead of buying well-considered but less expensive presents.
Overspending at Christmas has become the norm and difficulties with money is certainly one of the main things that many of us worry about for one reason or another – not just during the festive season – but all year round. Typically people feel the need to earn more money than they already do, and mostly feel disempowered because they can’t, and countless people all over the world go through a lot of anxiety and distress because they don’t have enough to make ends meet.
“Money can’t buy happiness” is a well-known saying which is widely believed in different cultures all over the world. However, you may not be aware of it, but recent research has shown that money CAN in fact buy you happiness, no matter what your financial status is – but only if you spend it in the right way! Can you guess how that might be? Have a look at this TED talk by Michael Norton on “How to Buy Happiness” to get a different slant on the whole issue of how to spend our money. https://www.ted.com/talks/michael_norton_how_to_buy_happiness
It could give you a totally new take on a more meaningful reason for buying Christmas presents!
Christmas, as we all know, is a Christian festival and it’s good to remember that the essence of the Christian message is about love, kindness, compassion and appreciation. All the more reason therefore, at this time of year, for us to remember to re-double our efforts at letting go of judgement and criticism not only about others, but towards ourselves as well. ‘Our thoughts, attitudes and emotions emit energetic fields that affect our perspective and others’ environments’. (Institute of HeartMath’s December 16th Newsletter). It goes on to say : ‘The good news is we can positively change our individual and social field environments with attitudes of genuine love, appreciation, care and compassion, which moves us into coherence ……Coherence is a highly efficient state in which all of the body’s systems work together in harmony. Increasing personal coherence creates an alignment of mind, body, emotions and spirit through the power of the heart.’
There are far-reaching ramifications for what they refer to as “Heart Based Living”. Research has proven it can increase your own sense of well-being and also benefit those around you. Tips to help you do this include practicing genuine appreciation for everything and increasing heartfelt positive emotions; practicing care, not overcare, for yourself and others; guarding against negative projections; and being objective about issues that arise as if they were someone-else’s. Learning to develop these abilities could enable you to achieve a brand new perspective on the traditional Christmas message of peace and goodwill to all.
Try practicing the HeartMath breath to help you achieve a greater state of harmony on all levels of your being. Here’s what you do: Breathe in holding the image of inhaling through your heart, hold for 5 counts and then breathe out, again with the image of exhaling through your heart. Do this for at least 5 minutes a day (or more!) and notice the difference. To find out more about heart coherence research go to: http://www.heartmath.org/research/research-home/coherence.html
And finally, I’d like to end by reproducing some thoughts from William Bloom, who is one of my very special teachers, about living life to the benefit of yourself and others. He says:
‘Just for the moment, forget about spirituality, religion, atheisim, secularism, humanism.
‘There is so much evidence about what is good for us.
‘It is simple – Life is good for us.
‘Connect every day, connect every moment, with the sheer wonder and energy of nature, cosmos – life. Bask. Soak. Luxuriate in it.
‘Practice compassionate and intelligent self-care
‘Pulse into your life a rhythm of recreation and rest. Hour by hour. Day by day. Year by year.
‘Love and care for others. Family, neighbours, colleagues and community. All life.
‘Be brave and persistent and stretch beyond the boundaries of your comfort. Courage and generosity of spirit are transformational.
‘Always know that we are developmental beings. We guide ourselves into being awake, loving and connected.
‘This is life.
‘We do it already’ www.williambloom.com
Wishing you all peace and joy in this season of Light. May you find renewal, re-birth and increasing love for your own uniqueness and that of others. And may the New Year bring you all abundance and fulfilment.
With love and blessings, Sally