Be the Change You Want to See in the World

The recent tragic and violent events in North America have shaken many people. Isn’t this time of the year supposed to be about love and celebration?

We have asked if the US gun laws are to blame, or the media’s sensationalism, or our society in which individuals can feel so disconnected and desperate that they are capable of committing the most horrendous crimes.

All this is part of the truth. However, all these questions of blame have us point the finger at politics, or the media, or society in general, and stop us from taking responsibility and making true changes.

Let’s just assume for a moment that there is a higher plan in place, that things do happen for a reason. How can these events propel us forward into a different society, a different future?

The famous quote by Mahatma Ghandi, “You must be the change you want to see in the world,” reminds us that every one of us counts.

We have to start with ourselves and our families, and from there direct our energy into our communities, cities, countries and our world.

Fear, loneliness, disconnection and separation are illusions that lead to desperation and violence.

In what ways do you remind yourself that we are all connected?

In what ways are you loving and compassionate to yourself and the people around you?

In what ways are you making a difference in the world so that person by person this planet can survive and change to a place of love, compassion, kindness, interdependency and sharing?

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4 Ways to Simplify and Make the Holiday Season More Meaningful

The Holiday Season is once again upon us. It is an emotional time for many and a stressful time as well. It is a time of the year that is connected to high expectations. If we are alone, if we are sick or struggling financially, it is an even harder time than the rest of the year.

Christmas is one of those topics that people feel strongly about. I hear more and more people saying they feel our western commercialized way of celebrating this season of love is not anymore what it was meant to be. People are talking about wanting to simplify Christmas and get back to the real meaning of the season. Here are some good ideas I have come across asking people what they do.

1. Celebrate with your immediate family at home

Stay home on Christmas instead of getting all stressed about traveling and visiting with family or friends. Do the visiting before or after Christmas and create some Christmas memories with your immediate family.

2. Change your gift giving

Instead of stretching your budget to the extremes to buy Christmas gifts, limit the gift buying.

– Give gifts to your friends on their birthday rather than in December.  The birthday gifts will be more personal because you have more time to pick something.

– Agree with family and friends to only buying gifts for kids. Consider a smaller gift for your own kids. Most of our children have everything they need.

– Try a family gift instead of a gift for each person.

– Give the gift of experiences in the form of gift cards for the movie, theatre, restaurant, or any other activity someone might enjoy.

– Or give a really meaningful gift by writing a letter to the people you love. Tell them why you are grateful they are in your life.

Here are some more ideas around gifts friends gave me when I conducted a little survey:

“We don’t buy “presents” for each other- we donate to a charity in each others names- we feel good knowing we have spent our money on something that matters, we avoid the mad malls-so that makes things a lot simpler!” (Christine)

“For my mother and mother in law I always make a family calendar full of pictures from the year. They love to be able to see everyone throughout the year, especially as we all live rather far from each other.” (Susan)

3. Focus on meaningful activities, not gifts

Make meaningful memories. Watch Christmas movies, read Christmas stories, sing carols, do crafts, cook the meal together, or volunteer to help in the community, whether that is at the local food bank or any other good cause that needs your time and helping hand.

4. Reach out to people

One friend of mine told me that she and her family bought blankets one Christmas and drove into Toronto to hand out the blanket to homeless people. It was an amazing experience for her and her husband as well as for her daughter and her son.

Think about who you could reach out to this Christmas. Is there someone who lives alone, and who you could include in your celebration of love and light? Who needs your help? Who you can give your time or some financial support to?