With the holidays approaching and the gift-giving season in full swing, why not give something that has more meaning than anything material.
This is not an invitation to stop all forms of material gifts. Do what you feel is right for you, buy presents, but give the act your full and best attention.
We do say it’s the thought behind the gift that counts.
If we look deeper into the statement above, the thought focused attention on something we want to get for someone. Then we expend the money and energy to buy it.
This is often the case during Christmas season – we celebrate the occasion with gifts to others and ourselves, yes ourselves also included.
We want to have or experience various things. But we don’t always get what we want. There are things we can’t afford. And there might be practical considerations (not enough time, and too many responsibilities) that stop us from going after what we desire.
The limitations of time, money, and responsibility can lead to feeling like we’re missing out; we can’t be happy or complete without getting what we want.
With the yuletide season coming up, as today is also my birthday, I thought about what I want this year. Usually I don’t want much (other than something sweet to share with my family). What gift can I give to myself that didn’t require money or more time?
As I ponder deeper, this rather simple idea comes to mind.
I have a habit of frowning, as if I’ve got all the burdens of the world upon my shoulders causing the skins in my forehead to cringe. To that, I must say that I don’t and my vision is also perfect so no apparent physical reason causing the frowning. At my age, I already have these obnoxious lines on my forehead, more like an exposed fault lines to my rather active rambling thoughts – an inner earthquake manifesting. I stopped this habit of frowning in the past, but eventually started again. Even with disappointed looks and judgment from family, especially my significant half, I still did it. Shame was not an effective motivator. And discipline alone didn’t work either.
I’ve wanted to stop this habit for years, but haven’t succeeded. My guess: my reasons for stopping were not strong enough to make me stop for good.
A month ago, and after another disappointed look from my partner, something clicked. I decided to stop. This time it wasn’t because of disappointing others (that’s a bonus), but as a gift to myself – as an act of kindness and generosity. I gave myself something I’ve wanted for a long time, something that will free me from an embarrassing habit. And because it’s a gift, I won’t take it back.
So far so good. I’ve been celebrating this gift every day.
From this idea of stopping a bad habit, I started looking into the things that can transform our lives, but don’t require time or money. They will of course require energy, like everything else in life.
I came up with the following non-material yet great gifts I can give myself this year. They will not cost me a dime and they won’t take any more of my time. The only things required are the desire to do them and focused energy—no special tools, special time, or place. And these are:
Attention and awareness
One of the most profound things we can experience is focused attention. Living life is the sum of noticing and attending to what we’re experiencing, without judgment or analysis. To be fully one with the experience in this moment doesn’t cost anything. And it will change your life forever. The more you notice and pay attention, the more you appreciate, and the more you come alive. The gift of attention is within everyone’s reach.
Being kind and forgiving doesn’t cost a thing. It’s a choice we can make every single moment.
If you’ve been holding a grudge, or have been feeling bitter and resentful, give yourself the gift of kindness by setting yourself free from unnecessary suffering over something that happened in the past. A smile, a gentle touch, or even a deep breath can reshape this moment.
This is what I truly need given the painful experience I had just recently through the passing away of my mom. Letting go of expectations (of the future) and painful memories (of the past) is freedom.
You can let go of whatever you think should happen. Imagine doing what you’re doing and not worrying about how it’s going to turn out, or what others would think. It’s a wonderful gift.
When we let go of the past, we can forgive more easily. And when we let go of holding on to nostalgic memories and what was, we will awaken to the life we have right now. Letting go doesn’t stop with the past and the future, but includes the present. Another act of kindness is to let go of judging ourselves and others.
Acceptance and surrender
After letting go comes surrender and accepting life as it is. To accept how you feel, what you’re thinking, and where you are (the way you are) is power.
Surrender is trusting that life always has your back. You allow life to unfold, moment by moment, without wishing things were different. And when we surrender to life, we give ourselves the ultimate gift—peace.
All roads lead to LOVE
Attention is an act of love of all there is. Changing harmful habits is an act of self-love. Kindness and letting go are expressions of love towards ourselves and others. And surrendering to life is the most powerful and respectful act of love there is.
Our lives are in a constant state of influx and change. This is good news because we can change any thing at any given moment, if we make a conscious choice to do so.
The gifts of change are probably the ones that matter most. They don’t come wrapped up nicely in boxes, can’t be bought or sold, and are not too small to matter.
Think of something you can do for yourself that would be a kind and generous gift no one else can give you, something that won’t cost you money or time … something that you can do right now. What would that be?
Transformation starts with a single different choice.
(c) 2016 viewpointsofandrei.com