Share your heart, not consumption at Christmas
Giving is a cherished human experience. I would even go as far as to say, that giving to another is the foundation of all meaningful experience and true happiness. Big call hey! But I believe it to be the truth. This type of giving, the real giving, is not an act at all but a state of mind. Without this mindset of giving, an act becomes a meaningless habit or an obligation. Where physical gifts come at a great cost to others the act of giving loses its satisfying properties and its virtue.
It is wise to consider these two things at Christmas time 1) the really meaning of giving and 2) our responsibility to everyone, even those people outside of our circle. Without consideration of these deeper obligations it is easy to be tricked by clever marketing that is designed to manipulate this natural and heartfelt desire to share with others and be happy to direct us toward material consumption. The promise of greater love and happiness through material things is a promise that can never be kept. It is a false promise that despite our clever rational thinking we fall for time and again.
The mindset of giving is about serving others and sharing the best of you with the world. The Dali lama speaks of a universal responsibility, where each human being must learn to work not just for his or her self, family or nation but the benefit of all mankind. Now this is some big responsibility for a single human being to carry. It is a big ask to consider such a broad sweeping responsibility when we make every decision in life. I know this is tough, right! But below the surface, we feel this obligation deep in our bones.
We have an innate inkling that the pursuit of material possession will not satisfy us and that there is more to life than this. We have an innate desire to care for others and to be cared for. Despite this, many of us still feel trapped in the rat race without a way out; we simply don’t have time to spend with others. We don’t have time to spend with ourselves. At times we don’t even know who we are and why we are hear. Life lacks meaning. So we consume and share consumption instead.
We are more than this. Even single meaningful experience shared with another human being re-inspires meaning in life and gives us purpose. Sharing the best of ourselves with others, sharing the fullest expression of our soul this is satisfaction!
Now, for some practical tips on sharing a meaningful Christmas!
1. Instead of buying a present, spend time with people that you love. Plan a special day that is all about showing how much you appreciate them and share it together.
2. Take a moment to sit and mediate allow stillness and contentment to arise in you. Think of the moments that have inspired great joy in you and meditate on how you can create this experience for others around you.
3. If you are thinking of a gift for someone special, consider what might inspire growth, creativity and lasting joy in him or her. Give thought to buying an experienced based, rather than a material gift e.g. sky diving, whale watching, tickets to a performance, a day spa, a workshop, retreat, yoga or fitness voucher. Experienced based gifts never create clutter, don’t end up as land fill and are always fair trade!
4. Share your gratitude. You could write a list of everything you are grateful for in relation to the special people in your life. They will remember those words long after any gift being unwrapped.
5. Think about fair trade. If you do buy a physical gift, consider the happiness of those who made it not just the recipient. Give thought to buying fair trade or locally, the world vision pop up shop just opened up around the corner on Flinders St (check it out).