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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 November 18, 2020

    15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It)

    15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It)

    It’s okay, you can finally admit it. It’s been two months since you’ve seen the inside of the gym. Getting sick, family crisis, overtime at work and school papers that needed to get finished all kept you for exercising. Now, the question is: how do you start again?
    Once you have an exercise habit, it becomes automatic. You just go to the gym, there is no force involved. But after a month, two months or possibly a year off, it can be hard to get started again. Here are some tips to climb back on that treadmill after you’ve fallen off.

    1. Don’t Break the Habit – The easiest way to keep things going is simply not to stop. Avoid long breaks in exercising or rebuilding the habit will take some effort. This may be advice a little too late for some people. But if you have an exercise habit going, don’t drop it at the first sign of trouble.
    2. Reward Showing Up – Woody Allen once said that, “Half of life is showing up.” I’d argue that 90% of making a habit is just making the effort to get there. You can worry about your weight, amount of laps you run or the amount you can bench press later.
    3. Commit for Thirty Days – Make a commitment to go every day (even just for 20 minutes) for one month. This will solidify the exercise habit. By making a commitment you also take pressure off yourself in the first weeks back of deciding whether to go.
    4. Make it Fun – If you don’t enjoy yourself at the gym, it is going to be hard to keep it a habit. There are thousands of ways you can move your body and exercise, so don’t give up if you’ve decided lifting weights or doing crunches isn’t for you. Many large fitness centers will offer a range of programs that can suit your tastes.
    5. Schedule During Quiet Hours – Don’t put exercise time in a place where it will easily be pushed aside by something more important. Right after work or first thing in the morning are often good places to put it. Lunch-hour workouts might be too easy to skip if work demands start mounting.
    6. Get a Buddy – Grab a friend to join you. Having a social aspect to exercising can boost your commitment to the exercise habit.
    7. X Your Calendar – One person I know has the habit of drawing a red “X” through any day on the calendar he goes to the gym. The benefit of this is it quickly shows how long it has been since you’ve gone to the gym. Keeping a steady amount of X’s on your calendar is an easy way to motivate yourself.
    8. Enjoyment Before Effort – After you finish any work out, ask yourself what parts you enjoyed and what parts you did not. As a rule, the enjoyable aspects of your workout will get done and the rest will be avoided. By focusing on how you can make workouts more enjoyable, you can make sure you want to keep going to the gym.
    9. Create a Ritual – Your workout routine should become so ingrained that it becomes a ritual. This means that the time of day, place or cue automatically starts you towards grabbing your bag and heading out. If your workout times are completely random, it will be harder to benefit from the momentum of a ritual.
    10. Stress Relief – What do you do when your stressed? Chances are it isn’t running. But exercise can be a great way to relieve stress, releasing endorphin which will improve your mood. The next time you feel stressed or tired, try doing an exercise you enjoy. When stress relief is linked to exercise, it is easy to regain the habit even after a leave of absence.
    11. Measure Fitness – Weight isn’t always the best number to track. Increase in muscle can offset decreases in fat so the scale doesn’t change even if your body is. But fitness improvements are a great way to stay motivated. Recording simple numbers such as the number of push-ups, sit-ups or speed you can run can help you see that the exercise is making you stronger and faster.
    12. Habits First, Equipment Later – Fancy equipment doesn’t create a habit for exercise. Despite this, some people still believe that buying a thousand dollar machine will make up for their inactivity. It won’t. Start building the exercise habit first, only afterwards should you worry about having a personal gym.
    13. Isolate Your Weakness – If falling off the exercise wagon is a common occurrence for you, find out why. Do you not enjoy exercising? Is it a lack of time? Is it feeling self-conscious at the gym? Is it a lack of fitness know-how? As soon as you can isolate your weakness, you can make steps to improve the situation.
    14. Start Small – Trying to run fifteen miles your first workout isn’t a good way to build a habit. Work below your capacity for the first few weeks to build the habit. Otherwise you might scare yourself off after a brutal workout.
    15. Go for Yourself, Not to Impress – Going to the gym with the only goal of looking great is like starting a business with only the goal to make money. The effort can’t justify the results. But if you go to the gym to push yourself, gain energy and have a good time, then you can keep going even when results are slow.

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