Christmas has traditionally always been a time for giving and sharing. It’s the time to take a step back after a busy year, recharge the batteries and enjoy time with loved ones and friends. Somewhere along the way though as a society we seem to have lost our way and lost sight of the important message of Christmas. We have been brainwashed into following capitalist trends and keeping up with the Joneses.
It’s an especially hard time of year for those who have little spare cash. The media have conditioned us all to believe that we need the latest gadgets, to lavish exuberant gifts on our loved ones and dine to excess on food and treats. The advertising is is intensely hypnotic. The bright lights capture our attention whilst the soothing voices tell us that this new product will change our lives and make us more attractive/please your partner/make the children behave… and we are gullible. Don’t get me wrong, the advertising is extremely manipulative and brands spend an absolute fortune on convincing us we need to live a certain way to be successful. Nowadays you have to pay to simply exist and that itself can take a toll on your mental wellbeing, especially at Christmas.
Let me tell you, you don’t need the latest brands and gadgets to be happy. They are just disposable items that will no longer be seen as cool or trendy next year when the next I-phone, console or designer wear hits the shelves. That rush you gain from picking up the latest shiny gizmo is fleeting and if you are using material items to make you feel good about yourself then it won’t be long until you are feeling empty again.
Those shiny new toys and gizmos will end up broken or catching dust. That elaborate feast that you spent a fortune on will end up in the bin, or clogging your arteries. The truth is we don’t NEED these things to be happy! I’m not suggesting you become a Christmas Scrooge whatsoever, but breaking your back all year round to indulge excessively on one day is not the key to happiness. There is a lot to be said for simplicity and instead of spending frivolously on things that will probably go to the back of someone’s closet, consider spending on an experience with them so you can enjoy the memory forever. Most people will appreciate time spent with you more than trinkets.
If you are feeling a little blue this Christmas and money is a concern for you, then you should ensure that you don’t buy into the hype and feel pressured into living beyond your means. You may be wondering what there is to enjoy if you can’t join in with the spending and indulging. Open your eyes and see that everyone does this because they feel they should. When you feel like you should do something, then it’s not really genuine pleasure. It’s a sense of duty that leaves you compelled to follow the crowd, but the truth is you don’t have to. It doesn’t make you a miser or a killjoy. It just means that you don’t feel compelled to live up to societies expectations and live to spend. There is a lot to be said for altruism and statistics showing that altruism can give you a far greater sense of happiness than receiving gifts.
What is altruism?
Altruism is a selfless act in which you do something that will benefit somebody else rather than yourself. Examples of this would be serving in a soup kitchen for the homeless, caring for the elderly, volunteering in some manner or going out of your way to do something kind for someone less fortunate. If we are honest, there are a lot less fortunate people out there. People who are forced to live hand to mouth through no fault of their own, people who go often without a meal in their stomach, those who don’t have a safe, warm comfy bed let alone an I-Phone and those who are old and lonely and have no one left to love.
If you are feeling depressed, stop dwelling on your own problems. Give some time to someone less fortunate and not only will it make you feel good but it will take your mind off your own issues.
This is the true message of Christmas, giving your time and care to others more needy than yourself.
Perhaps you are worried that you can’t spoil your kids the most expensive toys. Rather than buckle in to the pressure, realise that love cannot be bought and buy only what you can afford. Many parents give their children elaborate gifts then send them off to play on their own in their room. The gift of your time to a child is very precious and whilst they might not realise it at the time, being there for them and nourishing them is the greatest gift of all. Playing in the park, building a snowman, decorating the tree or drawing pictures. These things are all inexpensive and things that will condition them to be loving, well rounded and emotionally strong adults.
We have replaced love and our time with material items that have no real value and do not nourish the soul in anyway. As a result the next generation grows up to feel that they need material things to be happy. This really is not the case.
Now I want you to do something for me in a moment. I want you to close your eyes and relax. Think forward 20 years, 30 years, 40 years, picture yourself at the age of 75 looking back over your life…what will you remember? Will you remember that amazing new Samsung wide screen you bought? Or that cool smartwatch? It’s unlikely. You are more likely to recall happy memories with loved ones, things that made you smile and laughed and most importantly – times when you made someone else feel good and put a smile on their face. These are the important things to focus on and will give us all a greater sense of wellbeing than trying to keep up with ever changing trends and fads. Do you want to make sure that the 75 year old you pictured is smiling and full of happy memories? Start making those memories right now. And if you are someone that is fortunate to have any loved ones, think about donating your time to a worthwhile cause. In the process you are likely to meet like minded people with whom you can connect with.
You might not put my words into practise straightway but do one thing for me for Christmas….just think about what I said and think about how you can touch the people around you and bring happiness to others.
Thanks for reading my blog and Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas. It’s one of my favourite Christmas songs by the wonderful legend Judy Garland – enjoy!