Thanksgiving, the day of giving thanks and being grateful for all we have is followed by Black Friday, a day (or even a week) of frenetic sales, pushing and shoving: consumerism at it’s finest. As years pass, Black Friday, “Black Friday Week” and Cyber Monday seem to overshadow and outdo the charm of a simple Thanksgiving. What a juxtaposition of contrasting beliefs.
One moment we are trying to be grateful and appreciative for all we have. In the next breath, millions of people rush to the mall to buy things and literally fight for ‘stuff’ that they don’t need. Unfortunately we waste a lot of time on the superfluous things we think we need while less and less focus is given to what truly matters.
What truly offers us lasting happiness and a full life? The newest iphone, a giant smart TV at 50% off…? I can answer without a trace of a doubt that these physical objects can only bring a sort of artificial and temporary ‘contentment’. Once we play the new PS4 game a few times, or get used to the new phone, that initial excitement fades and we are left empty, with the desire for something more.
Having more things really doesn’t bring us happiness. It creates clutter in our lives and blocks out the space where true happiness resides. True joy doesn’t come from endless receiving, it comes from simplicity and giving back.
Finding true happiness begins when we give time and love while also giving up negativity and excuses.
Give your Time
One of the most precious things we have to give is our time. By volunteering we donate one of our most precious resources. Putting our energies into good causes can bring joy that lasts. Spending quality time with our families and friends, without the interruptions from Instagram, Whatsapp and Facebook. Put your phone down, leave your mental clutter for later and focus on the moment.
I often see couples out to dinner, both parties with cell phone in hand, snapping the perfect picture of their food to post on the social network. (The “If a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, does it make a sound?” has morphed into “If I do something but don’t post it on a social network, did it really happen?”). Take pictures and make memories but be present for goodness sake. Being distracted and consumed by your newsfeed can take away from special memories. Social media will still be there later on, trust me. Go play with your kids, bake cookies, make dinner as a family, go for a walk and relish in the time you have together.
Give your Love
This Holiday season, I challenge you to give more than just presents. Give your love to the people that matter to you. Show that you care through your actions and not just gifts.
How can you show you you care without presents? Through little acts of kindness. Make a surprise visit to your mother’s, father’s or grandparent’s house. Bring your neighbor a home-cooked meal or treat. Send out Christmas cards to friends whom with you’ve fallen out of touch and even invite them to get coffee and catch up. You’ll be surprised how much joy these little acts can bring.
Give Up Negativity
We live in a world where negativity is around every corner, waiting to ruin our day. The negative voices seem to fill the air and sometimes its hard to breathe in positivity. Our society and the media brew negativity.
It only takes 10 minutes of watching the news or looking on social media to find negative comments, bullying and bad news. We have to search a lot harder to find the joyful, feel-good kinda stuff.
In order resolve this problem, we must look inside ourselves. If we all give up some of our own personal negativity and bad energy, happiness can start to seep in. It takes some serious mental training to let go of negativity, but we can work on replacing at least one bad vibe with a positive ones every day. We mustn’t dwell on the bad, even though it can be very easy to slip into that trap.
Give Up Excuses
What is holding you back? It is because you are too inexperienced? Too old? Not enough time? Too embarrassed? We all have dreams and bucket-lists that we would love to actualize, but many times we block ourselves with excuses. We’ve all said things like “I’d like to get back in shape and join a gym, but I have no time.” or “I’d love to do that, but I wonder what other people would think.”
Why do we hold ourselves back from happiness by making excuses? Unfortunately excuses get us nowhere closer to fulfilling our dreams. We should all lose the “maybe I’ll do it tomorrow” attitude and start today. This holiday season, do something that you have been longing to do — whether that be calling an old pal, starting yoga, joining a new class or going on a dream vacation.
If we can remember to do these four things this Holiday season (& year round), happiness will be easier to find. Memories and time spent together are the true riches in life after all.
“And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow,
stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.”
Author: Ali @ Sustainable Psyche
My name is Ali. I am an American living in Italy. I am passionate about delicious food that is also ethical, healthy and sustainable. I love pasta and pizza, traveling, horseback riding and exploring the vibrant city of Milan that I call home.
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