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What We REALLY Want For Christmas

What We REALLY Want For Christmas

christmas tree

    Stores are busy right now.  Maybe people aren’t buying as much as in past years but they’re buying nonetheless.  Everyone is in the spirit of giving, but deep down also looking forward to receiving.  The common denominator here is “things” and “stuff”.  Now, I’m all for making people happy and seeing the smile on their face when they open an exciting gift – that really brings me joy.  And, of course, I love receiving a gift from someone special, but life experience has taught me that this “stuff” cannot really bring what most of us want for Christmas.

    Over the past twenty years or so our culture has been quite ego-based.  We always wanted something from other people or situations.  There was often a hidden agenda, always a sense of “not enough yet” or lack that needed to be filled.  Sometimes we used people and situations to get what we wanted and even when we succeeded, we were never satisfied for long.  The famous song, “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” is the song that describes this best.  Then the crisis hit.

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    People who felt secure and successful suddenly found themselves jobless.  The houses, cars, and/or businesses were gone.  It was the biggest shock many of us have felt in our lives.  However, something beautiful has come from this.  People have begun to realize that they can live with less and that they are actually happier with their more simple life.  People realized that they were putting too much pressure on themselves to get this or that or achieve this or that.

    Parents have begun to become more creative with the activities they do with their families; instead of going on an expensive vacation, they are going on more hikes and picnics and spending more time in nature.  Family has become the centre of life again, not work.

    Many people have started a new job or career in an area they always wanted to, but were too scared to try.  They are beginning to make money doing what they love instead of what they thought they “should” be doing.

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    From lemons did come lemonade.  It was time for these things to change and for us to start living according to what we value.

    To delve into this more, I suggest writing down your top five values and once this is done, take an honest look at your life as it is now.  If an outsider were to look at your life would they be able to see what you truly value?

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    Now write down ways, and think outside the box here, that you could rearrange your life so that you knew with 100% of your being that your life reflected your values.  We often put road blocks up here, or our egoic fears start jumping in, but just move past them and think what the new year could look like and most importantly FEEL like.

    Some ideas to consider are:

    1. Downsizing to one car
    2. Downsizing your home
    3. Providing your boss with a proposal showing how you could work one day from home (which would ensure that you eat both breakfast and dinner with your family)
    4. Waking up 1/2 an hour earlier to work out
    5. Plan a date night with your husband or wife once a month
    6. Ask for a job transfer so that you work closer to home
    7. Plan a one-on-one activity with each of your children every month
    8. Create a new family tradition.  For example: After dinner you turn on some classical or soft music and each reads a book for 30 mins OR one person reads aloud a  chapter from a novel for 30 minutes.
    9. Brainstorm a way you can be generous at least one time per month.  Example: Babysit for a friend on a Friday night or offer to shovel someone’s sidewalk one day.
    10. Regularly buy fresh flowers for your home

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    We’ve come a long way as a culture.  Things can only get better in our family lives and communities if we continue on this great wave of thinking and living.

    So, this Christmas, spend thoughtfully, enjoy the holiday fully, and give yourself and your family the best gift yet – a less-stressed, more blissful life.  It’s what we truly want, isn’t it?

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    Last Updated on January 13, 2020

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

    No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

    Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

    Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

    A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

    Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

    In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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    From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

    A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

    For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

    This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

    The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

    That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

    Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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    The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

    Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

    But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

    The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

    The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

    A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

    For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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    But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

    If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

    For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

    These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

    For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

    How to Make a Reminder Works for You

    Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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    Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

    Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

    My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

    Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

    I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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