It’s the season of giving, peace and goodwill, the time of year when people are the most kind, generous... and the most stressed out. So how do we keep peace in our hearts when fighting for a parking spot or scraping money together for gifts? We are in the thick of the gift-giving season, so the pressure is on.
American capitalism has created a lifestyle of gluttony, wanting and luxury... at any cost. The steady stream of commercials for diamonds and luxury cars seem disrespectful in a time of devastation and suffering... but we don’t have to buy into it.
Sometimes all we need is a little perspective. The recent tragedies of Hurricane Sandy and the senseless school shooting in Connecticut, have given us a fresh look at what’s important. Suddenly, spending money (or credit) on lavish gifts seems inappropriate and unnecessary. Time spent together, a thoughtful note or modest hand-made gift means so much more. It truly is the thought that counts.
I was inspired by a story about the concept of Wishing You Enough. At the heart of the story, is this passage:
"I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude bright.
I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun more.
I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive.
I wish you enough pain so that the smallest joys in life appear much bigger.
I wish you enough gain to satisfy your wanting.
I wish you enough loss to appreciate all that you possess.
I wish you enough hellos to get you through the final good-bye."
This concept encourages gratitude, which leads to generosity and acts of kindness, like the story of a New York police officer who purchased a pair of shoes for a homeless man.
It’s been a tough year for many of us. People are unemployed, underemployed, underwater, financially struggling, ill, injured, homeless, hungry, suffering and dying. Hearing stories of personal loss is an effective way to appreciate what you have.
Even if we can’t afford to help others monetarily, we can make a difference in somebody’s life. Acts of kindness don’t have to be grand. Little things like stopping to let a pedestrian cross in the middle of the block, sharing food with a hungry person or helping a neighbor can make their day... and inspire them to pay it forward.
Generosity, kindness and hugs are contagious. Acts of kindness are not just for the holiday season and my heart is warmed with the knowledge that my Benicia community will continue thrive on the power of kindness.