The organizer in me will tell you to make your list and check them twice. Check off what you have accomplished and know that even small steps are steps of progress. I like that the trees were decorated early and parties planned well in advance. In almost any circumstance, we are typically less stressed and more able to accomplish more; by being proactive. So that is what we recommend, yet I understand not everyone has that luxury or ability for that matter, but still, it helps to plan ahead.
This season though, I want to look at this in a little different light. We all acknowledge that the holidays can be stressful and there never seems to be “enough” time to do all that we want to do, yet really if we actually “did” all the things we “talk” about not having time to do, we would get them done!! I hear us say, “It would be nice to help at the soup kitchen, but I don’t have time, or it would be better if I took the time to go see my family, but we are all just so busy….” Stop talking about it and get busy “doing” not just talking about doing! Find something that you believe in or someone that could use a hand and just get involved. This might be the ONLY time you will ever hear me say “you don’t need a list for this; you just need to go do it.” When we look up away from all of these screens (phones, Ipads, and televisions) that consume much of our time and realize who our neighbor is, who the homeless are, sleeping in the doorways, or someone who is changing jobs or start over once again in their lives, we realize that a simple smile or kindness can make a world of difference to and for someone else.
My (now) husband was telling me the other day about a man he has known on the street for some time, who earns any money he gets by finding aluminum cans and cashing them in. As Rey and a friend were walking into work, the man from the streets approached and greeted them, they spoke and Rey gave him some money and said: “go buy you a coke.” The co-worker said, “Man why did you do that? He is just a bum on the streets!” Rey replied and said, “Everyone enjoys a having a free coke now and then”. It is all about showing some compassion, for someone other than ourselves. So don’t make a list, and don’t spend time wrapping, and taping, and papering and tying bows….. instead show some compassion. You see compassion comes in very many different packages. It comes by sharing the road with the crazy driver who is texting and should be paying attention. It comes from being patient with the youngest employee who can’t seem to figure out “life”. It comes in knowing a little bit about your neighbor to know to go rake the leaves so they don’t have to. It comes from a constant reminder that a friend is right there to listen when you screwed up. Compassion is offering someone money enough for a coke.
This Compassion isn’t really that hard, more than the coke, or the raking of leaves, it is the gift of kindness that makes this season bright. Pure joy in giving to someone who does not expect it or feels like your gift is deserved is what I want you to experience. Our quest this December is to find our joy, by showing compassion to someone who might feel undeserving. Find somebody this month who could use a little bit of kindness.
I read recently three elements of compassion, which are to BE MINDFUL, BE GENTLE, and BE HONEST. Realizing that everyone makes mistakes, big and small and learning from our mistakes, can help us to be honest with someone else when they make their own. It is this kindness that changes the world we live in. Christopher Germer is quoted as saying “A moment of self-compassion can change your entire day. A string of such moments can change the course of your life.”
Change the course of your life, and I am sure you will also change the course of someone else’s. This life can be hard, and we can be full of resentment and bitterness if we choose, or work just a little to be kind, show some compassion, and feel the joy we are meant to experience.