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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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    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    No!

    It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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    But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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    What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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    But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

    1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
    2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
    3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
    4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
    5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
    6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
    7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
    8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
    9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
    10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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