Take a Breath, Be Generous, Enjoy the Holidays

I dreamed Jeff Bezos was wearing a Santa outfit trying to get into my house. He was carrying boxes, had a fake beard. He was sweating. The dog was barking. My house was in the desert, but in the Catskills. It was weird but dreams are weird.

This is the time of year when we are consumed with consumerism. When boxes, packages and bags pile up. Stuff and more stuff. So much stuff that it creeps into the unconscious. There may not be yoga classes this week, so you’re on your own. How do we declutter, make space, feel like we are really making a difference, and give with gratitude?

What it Means to be Human

This is the one blog where I don’t talk about the differences between the generations, but rather what is common in all generations and a common thread in what it means to be human. We are a social species, and we have survived this long because we have taken care of each other. Studies repeatedly show that the act of giving improves your overall happiness and well being.

It turns out that money does buy happiness, but only when you spend it on others. The concept of altruism-- giving something without expecting anything in return—is a hot topic of study for psychology researchers, but we don’t need research to tell us how we feel.

There is an old Chinese saying that goes: “If you want happiness for an hour, take a nap. If you want happiness for a day, go fishing. If you want happiness for a year, inherit a fortune. If you want happiness for a lifetime, help somebody.”

Just Do It

 In my new book, Second-Wave Millennials: Tapping the Potential of America’s Youth, I point out that the official slogan for Generation X is ‘Just Do It”. As an Xer myself, I highly recommend you spend as much time and money as possible doing and being altruistic. No one ever became poor by giving too much.  

Sometimes there is comfort in the wisdom of words, and my go-to place to keep me centered around gratitude and giving is printed in our church order of service every Sunday after the offering. It is: 

Let us be grateful when we are able to give, for many do not have that privilege

Let us be grateful for those who share their gifts with us, for we are enriched by their giving

Let us be grateful even for our needs, so that we may learn from the generosity of others.

So, take a breath, be generous, give with intention, and enjoy the holidays.

And one final thought: Don’t let Bezos in your house.