Here are the 5 biggest myths of the Holiday Season concerning what this author knows -- Christmas and New Years. Let's see if you agree.
- It is better to give than to receive. This is tantamount to declaring that, in regards to breathing, it is better to exhale than it is to inhale. In order to give there must be those who are willing to receive and to receive there must be individuals willing to give. As with breathing, ideally there needs to be a balanced interchange. When we don't allow others to give to us we deny them the pleasure that comes with giving and when others resist our generosity, they do the same to us. Truly appreciating any gifts we receive and letting our gratitude be known is actually just as noble as the giving of them.
- We must reciprocate with gifts of equal or greater monetary value. It is generally accepted that if we receive a gift valued at say $50, we need to return the favor with a present of similar monetary value. In actuality, an inexpensive homemade gift, especially when it is personalized for the particular person, can be an even better gift. Using our talents to make a gift with the recipients interests foremost in mind can be the gift he treasures above all others. Whether it be, for example, his favorite baked good or a photo of her with her family that you uniquely frame, its value to the recipient has little to do with cost and everything to do with the love and thoughtfulness that is put into the making of the present.
- Christmas has become too commercial and materialistic. This is true only when we give gift after gift and send a multitude of cards with Season's Greetings simply because we feel it is expected of us and because we feel obligated. When, however, we give joyously in the same spirit as the three wise men of Biblical times, Christmas retains its spiritual essence no matter how many material objects are exchanged. Unlike some creatures that are guided mainly by instinct, we were given free will and the gift of never-ending desire. It is born into us to want ever more and better things in our lives (this is where humanity's progress comes from); the secret to keeping our ever-burgeoning desires from becoming a glut of crass materialism is to fully appreciate all that we have and receive. The joy of a young child, on Christmas morning, unwrapping a present to find the toy he's been dreaming of is as spiritual as it is materialistic. The truth is that living in a material body in a material world, Sacredness is purely a state of mind recognizable by our emotional state.
- New Year's Resolutions don't work. The truth is that New Year's Resolutions can work under the right conditions. They are successful when our desire for change is more compelling than the pull of the status quo and remaining in our comfort zone. To greatly improve the chances of this year's resolution being successful, we need to find a reason that is a strong force for us and focus on this reason and, over the coming weeks and months, frequently refocus on it as needed. A friend of mine, for example, made a New Year's Resolution to quit heavy drinking and smoking cold turkey using this technique. He focused on wanting to make his young daughter proud of him and whenever he was tempted to back-slide, he would refocus on this one ultra-powerful desire. It worked. Twenty years later he is still free of the alcohol and tobacco habits AND is now an Ironman triathlete.
- During the holidays altruism trumps business as usual. It is generally accepted that volunteering our time to help the less fortunate is the spiritual thing to do. As a result, we tend to look more favorably, especially during the holidays, on the individual who helps out at the local soup kitchen than we do the businessman who keeps his nose to the grindstone building his commercial enterprise. Here's the question: Is this judging of others in the true spirit of the season? Let's take a closer look. Let's say that the volunteer at the soup kitchen helps feed 350 less-fortunate folks, while the business owner employs the same number of people. Because of his starting and building his business (even over the holidays), these 350 workers and their families don't need the services of the soup kitchen and may even choose to help this non-profit enterprise with their time and/or money. The aforementioned doesn't even take into consideration the countless people who enjoy the benefits of the for-profit company's services and/or products. The truth is that one is not better than the other; generously volunteering to help the less fortunate and running a successful business are both very noble uses of ones time and talents.
Here are a couple of holiday myths worth an honorable mention:
- The holidays are a stressful time. The truth is they are stressful when we focus on the aspects of them that stress us and joyous when we mainly pay attention to the parts of the season that we like.
- It is a given that that we will gain weight during the holidays. Actually, by using some simple techniques, such as eating less before and after parties, watching portion sizes, and keeping up our exercise routine, even if it means getting up extra early, we can maintain during this very busy season of parties, et al.
That's my take on the myths of this holiday season. What's yours? And, oh yes, have a glorious and delightful Christmas, New Years or whatever you celebrate!
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From Ed Mayhew -- the author of Fitter After 50, Fitter For Life and other books, CDs, videos and articles on how you, too, can make falling apart as you age merely an option -- NOT a mandate. Why not make the rest of your life the BEST of your life? http://www.FitterforLife.com and http://www.amazon.com/Age-Blasters-Steps-Younger-You/dp/1598589083/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1276528674&sr=1-1 (click here for paperback or Kindle editions of AGE BLASTERS)