As the holiday season approaches there is already a flurry of anticipation. The shopkeepers hoping that this will be a big success story, children dreaming of the presents they will receive, and parents wondering how they are going to deal with it all. The happy prospect of spending time with family and friends, or a gloomy sense of duty at the prospect of yearly family obligations.
This year, with increased awareness of climate change, ecologically minded types may be asking themselves about the carbon footprint of travelling to see distant relatives, of their gifts, and of all that packaging. When one looks at the goods piled up in the shops the notion of waste, or of what it all means, can naturally arise.
This could spin out into enormous geopolitical questions, about the plight of refugees and the very poor, questions about basic security, questions about society, about haves and have-nots in different parts of the world. Have-nots in material terms, but also those who are simply lonely when everyone else is getting together.
In Australia there is the beautiful idea of inviting “Christmas orphans” to join the celebration, individuals who would not otherwise have the opportunity to share a happy moment with friends. Near my home volunteers organize a big animated party for people living on the street or in otherwise precarious situations.
There are subtle ways to make this a harmonious moment for one’s family. At a time when many people are considering what gifts to offer and what arrangements to make for the celebrations, we can offer ourselves the gift of working on our own capacities for clarity, patience and kindness. Our memories of past years may be full of happy moments but also contain some misunderstandings. How can we have a fresh mind to make the best of any situation? How can we spread happiness, perhaps beyond our immediate circle? Training our own mind is the best way to ensure that, whatever the circumstances, we can have a positive impact. It might be through an act of humanitarian generosity, or simply a moment of sharing and gentleness with a lonely person or elderly relative.
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash
As the holiday season approaches, have you thought of offering Imagine Clarity as a gift? It could make a big difference for someone seeking for meaning in their life, curious to discover their own mind, or simply wanting to be happy.
You might make a difference by preparing yourself! Unlike many applications for developing mindfulness or “wellness”, Imagine Clarity explains, with clear steps, how to develop true kindness and an altruistic mind. For instance Matthieu Ricard’s Meditations on altruism or Charles Hastings’ series Awakening the heart can help you to become a source of happiness, not only for yourself, but for those around you.