Thought of the week

NEW!

07/03/14

INNER BEAUTY HAS NO SHADE

url

Oscar winning actress Lupita Nyong’o’s extraordinary and moving acceptance speech for the Essence Magazine’s annual Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon, has taken the world by storm. The video of her elegant, dignified and  heartfelt speech went viral with over 5 million hits. She spoke of her pain growing up feeling she didn’t conform to the established ideas of beauty, desperately wanting to have lighter skin until the internationally successful model Alec Wek arrived on the fashion scene , changing  pre-conceived ideas of what ‘ beauty is’. For Lupita this was a life changing moment. She suddenly had a new role model that looked like her, and as Alec was clearly considered beautiful so that in turn, meant that perhaps she too could be viewed as someone beautiful. But beyond skin, Lupita continued to talk about inner beauty being the essence of real beauty finishing off her game changing speech by saying ‘ Inner beauty has no shade’.

Overnight apart from her breathtaking beauty and intelligence, Lupita has become a symbol of hope for millions of young girls who for one reason or another feel ‘different’, who feel as if they don’t belong, who don’t feel beautiful. Industry standards are changing , the fashion world is slowly embracing diversity in its models, the film world is creating powerful roles for women, yet it is so ironic that a woman as beautiful and graceful and talented as Lupita spent so many of her formative years feeling ‘unbeautiful’.

Acceptance of who we are and how we look is fundamental to finding happiness and peace with ourselves, What we often view as ‘our flaws and imperfections’ are often the things that make us unique , original and beautiful in other people’s eyes. We are all unique and need to celebrate our differences, it’s what makes us human.

Orianna fielding

NEW!

02/02/14

How to find your daily ‘happy’.

12 things that happy people do differently

In our complex, intense and often challenging daily reality- one of our personal goals is to be happy. We look to people and circumstances outside of ourselves, each having a ranking on our personal giant checklist , to determine whether today ‘is a good day’  which ultimately determines whether we are ‘happy’. Few of us view  our ability to feel happy as a matter of choice or something we can control, we approach life in a reactive way, responding to external factors that either make us feel good or bad or worse somewhere in between, indifferent.. Happiness is not something to wait to be bestowed upon us or to be worthy of and earn, but it is something we can learn. Instead of ‘sweating the small stuff’ we can learn to appreciate ‘the small stuff’. Let’s switch our view of life from a wide angled lens to a macro lens. We can start to notice the fleeting moments that bring us joy, the happiness we give through a kind gesture, the way we feel after we go out of our way to do something for someone else, making someone feel valued or special, biting into a a ripe peach on a summer day, the sound of a cork as it come out of a wine bottle, the smell of a mimosa bush on a spring morning, giving an extra squeezy hug to someone who needs it, sharing a funny moment with someone else, it is the little moments of joy that cumulatively make a happy life. Happiness is not some distant place on the horizon that we have to jump hurdles and climb mountains to reach, the potential to be happy is within each of us, every single day. We just have to learn to hear it and feel it and see it.

According to Sonja Lyubomirsky, Positivity Psychologist  and author of the book ‘The How of Happiness” conducted studies on the  12 things happy people do differently to increase their levels of happiness.  The results of her study are fascinating and are listed below and are all things that we can start doing today to feel the effects of more happiness in our lives.

Orianna Fielding.

12 things that happy people do differently

  1. Express gratitude. – When you appreciate what you have, what you have appreciates in value. Being grateful for the blessings that are already present  in your life will bring you a deeper sense of happiness.  And that does not require us to go out and buy something to give us a short term high.  It makes sense.  We are always going to struggle if our starting point is misses the point- being happy with who we are, where we are, and with  what we have.
  2. Cultivate optimism. – Winners have the ability to manufacture their own optimism.  No matter what the situation,  successful people are the ones  who will always find a way to put an optimistic spin on everything.  Who view failure only as an opportunity to grow and learn a new lesson from life.  People who think optimistically see the world as a place packed with endless opportunities, especially in trying times.
  3. Avoid over-thinking and social comparison. – Comparing yourself to someone else can be self-destructive. Comparisons are unhealthy as we rarely know what the reality of someone else’s life holds.  While on the surface someone else’s life my seem, better, easier, more exciting, those are ‘surface values’ and often bear no connection to how their lives are really playing out behind the scenes. We know life is hard, and generally the challenges we each have to overcome are played out in private. Social comparisons don’t come from a healthy place.  If you feel the need to compare yourself to something, compare yourself to an earlier version of yourself, and see how far you have come!
  4. Practice acts of kindness. – Performing an act of kindness releases serotonin in the brain.  (Serotonin is a substance that has numerous health benefits, including making us feel more blissful.)  Selflessly helping someone is a powerful way to feel good inside.  Being kind to someone is always a win- win situation as not only will you feel better, but so will people on the receiving end of your  act of kindness.
  5. Nurture social relationships. – The happiest people on the planet are the ones who have deep, meaningful relationships.  Did you know studies show that people’s mortality rates are DOUBLED when they’re lonely?  Real friendships are so fundamental to our happiness. The feeling that comes from having an active circle of good friends who you can share your experiences with, is like no other because  “friends are the family we choose.”
  6. Develop strategies for coping. – How you respond to the ‘curve ball’ moments is what shapes your character.  Sometimes bad things do happen to good people and life is not always fair. ‘S*!T’ happens – it’s inevitable.   It can be hard to come up with creative solutions in the moment when manure is making its way up toward the fan.  It helps to have healthy selection of coping mechanisms and ‘go to’ strategies for coping with those unexpected hurdles we come against them.
  7. Learn to forgive. – Harboring feelings of anger and resentment is seriously damaging to your well-being.  The mind doesn’t know the difference between past and present emotion.  When you ‘have negative emotions about someone, and you’re continuously thinking about it, those negative emotions are eating away at your immune system.  It is a self perpetuating state that forgiveness, however hard  to achieve , will help to resolve and combat  the imbalance created by the negative emotions in your system.
  8. Increase flow experiences. – Flow is a state in which it feels like time stands still.  It’s when you’re so focused on what you’re doing that you become one with the task in hand.  Action and awareness are merged.  You’re not hungry, sleepy, or emotional.  You’re just completely engaged in the activity that you’re doing.  Nothing is distracting you or competing for your focus. Practicing Mindfulness on a regular basis helps achieve a state of ‘Flow’.
  9. Savor life’s joys. – Deep happiness cannot exist without slowing down to enjoy the joys to be found in the present moment.  It’s easy in a world of digital over stimulation and omnipresent movement to forget to embrace life’s enjoyable experiences.  When we neglect to appreciate, we deny the moment of its magic.  It’s the simple things in life that can be the most rewarding if we remember to notice them so that we can fully experience them.
  10. Commit to your goals. – Being wholeheartedly dedicated to doing something comes fully-equipped with an ineffable force.  Magical things start happening when we commit ourselves to doing whatever it takes to get somewhere.  When you’re fully committed to doing something, you have no choice but to do that thing.  Counter-intuitively, having no option – where you can’t change your mind – subconsciously makes humans happier because they know they are living  their purpose.
  11. Practice spirituality. – When we practice spirituality or religion, we recognize that life is bigger than us.  We lose our EGO which Wayne Dyer describes as ” Edging God Out’.  It enables us to connect to the source of all creation and embrace a connectedness with everything that exists. Recent scientific studies are now starting to show that our conscious and sub conscious force on an atomic molecular level,  do alter with our thought process and confirm our ability to connect and impact upon  the wider universal ‘force’ at an atomic level. (sic  Chaos theory)
  12. Take care of your body. We all know excercising is crucial to our wellbeing. But apart from our physical wellness it has a strategic role to play in our mental wellness. Taking care of your body is crucial to releasing endorphins and enabling us to feel positive and happy..  If we are not physically healthy , then our mental energy (our focus),our emotional energy (our feelings), and our spiritual energy (our purpose) will all be negatively affected. Scientific studies conducted on people who were clinically depressed showed that consistent exercise raises happiness levels just as much as taking an antidepressant and that six months later, the people who participated in exercise were less likely to relapse because they had a higher sense of self-accomplishment and self-worth. Even if it means walking up an extra flight of stairs, or walking over to talk to someone at the next desk instead of texting them, being active has to be our default setting. Our bodies were designed to be mobile, in motion and to be active. Leading a sedentary lifestyle’ sitting IS the new smoking’.

This post was adapted by Orianna Fielding from an original version of this post by Marc Chernoof featuring content by Jacob Sokol of Sensophy was first published  08/30/12 www.marcandangel.com

NEW!

06/01/14

How tobe where we are’ in 6 steps

Metal eating fork. Image shot 2007.

‘As you walk and eat and travel,

be where you are.

Otherwise you will miss most of your life.’

Buddha

We are 6 days in to our new year and many of us are still filled with a sense of renewal, optimism and hope for positive change, both personally, in our lives and for our extraordinary planet.

As we log back onto our daily lives filled with schedules, demands on our time, deadlines, juggling and the constant search for a live/ work balance, let’s pause for a moment, take a deep breath and remember to be ‘ where we are ‘.

Orianna Fielding

This post by Leo Babauta first appeared  Jan 14th 2013 in Zen habits

It’s still dark out and the world remains asleep as I write these words, and I’ve just finished my morning meditation.

I sip my tea, and savor the stillness, the quietude, the space of being able to think without distractions of the Internet or others.

This savoring … is for me a magical act.

Savoring is usually applied to eating good food: take a single square of dark chocolate and put it in your mouth, but don’t chew and swallow it. Let it sit there, as you savor it, noticing its earthy notes, hints of citrus, the richness of its texture as it melts in your mouth. You swallow it almost regretfully after letting it linger, fully appreciating the delicousness of it, giving pause to think about the people who grew the beans, who roasted and grinded them and hand-crafted them into this square of joy.

But savoring food is just the start: you can savor anything, and you should. It’s wonderful. And it changes everything.

Savoring can teach you to be mindful, to stop procrastinating, to finally exercise, to eat less and more healthfully, to live life in the present, and much more.

Let’s look at how. And, as you read this, I urge you to slow down from your usual busy practice of reading quickly, and savor the reading of this article.

1. Savoring ( immersing yourself in every experience)

The savoring of a square of dark chocolate is a great practice you can do once a day. I like to use tea, taught to me by my friend Jesse of Samovar TeaLounge in San Francisco , because it is so light (compared to sweet coffee drinks) that you have to really pay attention to get the most out of it.

When you savor tea, or chocolate, or a handful of berries … you slow down. You pay close attention — the closer the attention, the more you’ll get out of the savoring. You don’t rush to the next thing, but stop and give some space to the activity. You aren’t worried about what you have to do later, you are fully enjoying the present.

This is savoring, and it takes practice. You can do it right now, wherever you are: pause and look around you and savor this very moment. Even if it doesn’t seem to be special, because let’s face it you’ve done what you’re doing a thousand times, savor it. Fully appreciate the gift you’ve been given.

This is a practice you can do several times a day — find a few rituals for savoring, like enjoying your morning tea or coffee (without sugar), or taking a bath, or reading to your child, or having a tea ritual in the mid-afternoon, or snuggling with a loved one. The more you practice, the better you’ll get.

2. Procrastination ( there will never be a better time than now!)

We procrastinate because we are uncomfortable doing something and want to do more comfortable (easier or more familiar) things instead. We don’t want to write that report/article/chapter, because it’s difficult, and it’s easier to check emails and take care of a bunch of little tasks. It’s easier to put off those dreaded tasks.

But savoring can help. Let’s take writing as an example (the process is the same for anything, from cleaning your bathroom to doing taxes) … you have something to write and you know it’s important. The usual way is to say, “OK, I should write this, but first maybe I’ll check to see if anything important came into my email … and maybe my Twitter and Facebook too … oh, what’s this interesting article I found?”

When we savor, we take this task of writing, and we slow down. We give the task some space — no switching quickly to the next thing. We pay attention to it and find the enjoyable aspects of it. And actually, there are enjoyable aspects to any activity, if we slow down and pay attention. When we savor, we notice these things, and fully enjoy them. We bask in the moment of doing, and let ourselves soak in its pleasure.

So instead of switching to something else, we sit there with the writing. We notice our urge to switch and let it go — after all, we’re savoring this, so we can’t just switch! We think of other things we need to do, and let them go too. We’re savoring here.

And we just do the writing, and notice how our fingers feel as they move over the keys, and enjoy the pouring of our thoughts onto the screen, and notice our breathing, our shoulders, our jaw, our legs, our feet, as we sit and write. We know that many people are not lucky enough to be able to do something so luxurious as writing, and so we are grateful for this moment, however fleeting.

3. Doing the right thing  ( and loving doing it right now!)

A constant source of anxiety for most people, in this day when we can do almost anything at any moment, is: “Am I doing the right thing, right now?” Should I be exercising instead? Should I be checking what else is going on, in my social networks? Are other people doing something better? Is there a better way to do this, a better tool, a smarter method, a faster way?

When you savor, this anxiety can melt away. You are savoring this activity, so you let the thoughts of everything else go away, and immerse yourself. You give it space and just do this, and fully appreciate it. And so you know that you’re doing the perfect thing, right now, whatever it is, because nothing can be a delicious as savoring this moment.

4. Eating mindfully ( discovering a world of new tastes and textures)

One of the problems that causes many people to be overweight is that they eat too much (you might say it’s the main problem). A big reason people eat too much is that they eat large amounts of food, quickly. It’s tasty, so eat it fast! And get some more! I know, because I did this for years. Still do sometimes.

But I’ve also learned, much of the time, to savor my food. And when you do this, you don’t just cram it down your throat, but you pause for each bite (don’t reach for the next bite as soon as you put the last bite into your mouth), and you give it space, and you savor it.

This means that you really notice every taste of that bite, the texture of it, and give thought to where it came from, who made it, what went into it (not chemicals, we hope!), and what it will do for our body.

It’s hard to overeat when you savor each bite, and take your time. In this way, you can also learn to enjoy healthier foods, like dark leafy greens or raw almonds and walnuts or tempeh or tofu. You can also eat healthfully most of the time, and then enjoy a bit of birthday cake without overdoing it, because you just need a little bit in order to savor it.

5. Exercising ( obvious…no brainer- but still hard to do!)

I love to exercise, which is a statement most people probably wouldn’t make. I love the exertion of a good hard workout, the good feeling of lifting something heavy, the feel of the ground moving under my feet as I go for a quiet run.

Most people dread exercise, and so put it off. But you can savor a workout. You can savor a good walk or a run or ride. Give the workout some space, and fully be in the moment as you do it, fully notice your body as it moves and works, fully notice your breathing and feet as they touch the ground, fully notice the air and smells and sights around you.

Savoring exercise makes it more enjoyable, makes you more likely to do it, and makes the time you spend doing it perfect.

6. Living in the Present ( today really IS the present!)

Savor everything you do, every experience. There is no moment that cannot be savored — even those routine moments, even those times when you’re having a conflict with someone else, even those times when you’re alone with nothing to do.

Savoring is about learning to live presently, to fully enjoy the gift of each moment, to give that moment the space and attention it deserves. It takes practice, but it’s a delicious practice.

NEW!

30/12/13

20 things to let go of, to start 2014 renewed.

Life-is-a-balance-of-holding-and-letting-go

Learning how to let go of the person we think we ought to be in order to become the person we really want to be, takes courage. Letting go of anything in life can often  feel scary, but ultimately  it can also be a  self nurturing  and loving act of faith in yourself.

Letting go of our worries and stresses is a choice, as happiness is a choice. We know we can’t control life or ultimately the invariable curve balls that life throws at us but we can control our response to what happens to us. We won’t always get it right  but this list will get us back on track when life takes us on a detour from where we have set out to go.

Orianna Fielding.

20 things to let go of in order to reach unlimited happiness.

First posted by Shannon Kaiser december 16, 2013 9:00 am est

1. Let go of all thoughts that don’t make you feel empowered and strong.

2. Let go of feeling guilty for doing what you truly want to do.

3. Let go of the fear of the unknown; take one small step and watch the path reveal itself.

4. Let go of regrets; at one point in your life, that “whatever” was exactly what you wanted.

5. Let go of worrying; worrying is like praying for what you don’t want.

6. Let go of blaming anyone for anything; be accountable for your own life. If you don’t like something, you have two choices, accept it or change it.

7. Let go of thinking you are damaged; you matter, and the world needs you just as you are.

8. Let go of thinking your dreams are not important; always follow your heart.

9. Let go of being the “go-to person” for everyone, all the time; stop blowing yourself off and take care of yourself first … because you matter.

10. Let go of thinking everyone else is happier, more successful or better off than you. You are right where you need to be. Your journey is unfolding perfectly for you.

11. Let go of thinking there’s a right and wrong way to do things or to see the world. Enjoy the contrast and celebrate the diversity and richness of life.

12. Let go of cheating on your future with your past. It’s time to move on and tell a new story.

13. Let go of thinking you are not where you should be. You are right where you need to be to get to where you want to go, so start asking yourself where you want to go.

14. Let go of anger toward ex lovers and family. We all deserve happiness and love; just because it is over doesn’t mean the love was wrong.

15. Let go of the need to do more and be more; for today, you’ve done the best you can, and that’s enough.

16. Let go of thinking you have to know how to make it happen; we learn the way on the way.

17. Let go of your money woes — make a plan to pay off debt and focus on your  abundance.

18. Let go of trying to save or change people. Everyone has her own path, and the best thing you can do is work on yourself and stop focusing on others.

19. Let go of trying to fit in and be accepted by everyone. Your uniqueness is what makes you outstanding.

20. Let go of self-hate. You are not the shape of your body or the number on the scale. Who you are matters, and the world needs you as you are. Celebrate you!

SHANNON KAISER

23/12/13

NEW!

6 steps that will help you have a happier, more relaxed Holiday

ENJOYING-HOLIDAYS©Shutterstock

The holidays are a time of celebration, of families coming together, of caring and sharing and yet there is an enormous pressure that surrounds all family gathering to essentially ‘ have a great time!’ These gatherings often heavy with expectations can leads to an incredible amount of stress condensed into a short period of time. Unfortunately as much as they are a time of celebration,  family reunions can dredge up old family conflicts, coupled with the reality that the preparation of food to cater for many often requires lots of careful planning and spending during a time when  holiday shopping can be a nightmare, all join to create a complex time. However if we stop for a moment and take a breather from the to-do lists, the deadlines, the schedules, a fact  many of us have realised and one now backed up by research shows that external influences and  accumulating possessions have little to do with finding  genuine happiness. Happiness  works from the inside- out. So how can we stay grounded and present and enjoy the holiday spirit while finding our own little ‘piece of peace?

1. Set your intention to enjoy the holidays as much as you can. 

Posted: By James Baraz 12/20/2013 8:42 am EST Huffington Post

By making the conscious decision to open yourself to true well-being and happiness, you’ll be more likely not to miss those uplifting moments and even begin to have your radar out for them. Psychiatrist Dan Siegel argues that by setting your intention, you “prime” your brain to be ready for positive experiences. And this can spur a positive cycle of happiness: Research by psychologist Barbara Fredrickson shows that when we allow ourselves to feel positive emotions, we become more open and sensitive to future positive experiences, bringing us even more of those good feelings down the line.

2. Savor any moments of well-being when they’re here. 

Don’t just know that you’re feeling good. Let your awareness savor how the experience registers in your body and mind for 15 or 30 seconds. (Neuropsychologist Rick Hanson calls this “taking in the good.”) Research by Fred Bryant, a professor of psychology at Loyola University, has found that savoring positive experiences strengthens our positive response to them. And neuroscience studies have shown that the longer we hold an emotionally stimulating experience in our awareness, the more neural connections form in our brains to strengthen the trace of that experience in our memory.

3. Take a break, regain your focus. 

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by everything on your to-do list, remember to take a few breaths. Take a break and enjoy a cup of tea or a hot bath. Try some yoga or exercise. Or get out of the doing mode for a little while and let yourself just relax. It can be challenging to disengage from the clutch of activity and connect with the moment in a restful way. But research suggests that it’s worth the effort to slow down and regain your focus: A recent study out of Harvard found that a wandering mind — typical in our multitasking culture — is a strong cause of unhappiness.

4. Practice gratitude. 

Don’t take your good fortune for granted. Consciously reflect on all the blessings in your life each day. Express your appreciation directly to loved ones and friends when you’re with them. You and they will both feel the joy of loving connection. In a study by Martin Seligman, a leader in the field of positive psychology, people who considered themselves severely depressed were asked to write down three good things that happened each day for 15 days. At the end of the experiment, 94 percent of these subjects had a decrease in depression and 92 percent said their happiness increased. A study published earlier this year in the journal Psychological Science found that people who expressed gratitude to others felt significantly closer to those people afterward.

5. Practice generosity. 

Neuroscience research shows that performing an altruistic act lights up the same pleasure centers in the brain as food and sex! Whenever you feel the impulse to be generous, act on it. As you do, notice the expansive feelings in your body and mind. Without expecting anything in return, notice how good it feels inside when you see someone happy because of your sincere generosity. It can be as simple and profound as being fully present for a friend, sharing the gift of your caring and attention. Or when you open the door for someone, consider the positive impulse behind that act. Anytime you do something that contributes to the well-being of another, let yourself feel the joy of generosity. And be sure to include yourself in your generosity practice.

6. Play and have fun. 

Remember what it was like when you were a kid during the holidays? Let yourself experience that again. Be around kids if you can. Tune into and take delight in their enthusiasm. Singing or dancing are excellent ways to get out of your head and open to joy. As David Elkind, author of The Power of Play, writes, “Decades of research has shown that play is crucial to physical, intellectual, and social emotional development at all ages.”

Finally, remember that happiness is contagious: Research shows that happiness can spread like a virus across three degrees of separation; if you’re happy, you increase the odds that your close friends and family will be happy, too. So the more you can stay connected to your own happiness, the more you help others get in touch with their own well-being. We all benefit when you can awaken the joy within you. Happy Holidays!

This article originally appeared on Greater Good, published by the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley. For more, please visit greatergood.berkeley.edu.

NEW!

url

09/12/13

Mandela’s gift to us:

6 steps to making a difference. 

Others can better write about Nelson Mandela’s impact on the world stage, on how he stood up for the dignity of all people and on how he changed our world.

For those that seek to make a change in the world, whether global or local, what we can learn from his life is this:

1.You can.

2.You can make a difference.

3.You can stand up to insurmountable forces.

4.You can put up with far more than you think you can.

5.Your lever is far longer than you imagine it is, if you choose to use it.

6.If you don’t require the journey to be easy or comfortable or safe, you can change the world.

 by Seth Godin first published on December 05, 2013

NEW!

04/12/13

19 Signs You’re Doing Better than You Think

image © orianna fielding “True wealth is the ability to fully experience life.”Henry David Thoreau

Even in uncertain times, it’s always important to keep things in perspective.

  1. You are alive.

  2. You are able to see the sunrise and the sunset.

  3. You are able to hear birds sing and waves crash.

  4. You can walk outside and feel the breeze through your hair and the sun’s warmth on your skin.

  5. You have tasted the sweetness of chocolate cake.

  6. You didn’t go to sleep hungry last night.

  7. You awoke this morning with a roof over your head.

  8. You had a choice of what clothes to wear.

  9. You haven’t feared for your life today.

  10. You have overcome some considerable obstacles, and you have learned and survived.

  11. You often worry about what you’re going to do with your life – your career, your family, the next step, etc. which means you have ambition, passion, drive, and the freedom to make your own decisions.

  12. You live in a country that protects your basic human rights and civil liberties.

  13. You are reasonably strong and healthy – if you got sick today, you could recover.

  14. You have a friend or relative who misses you and looks forward to your next visit.

  15. You have someone with whom to reminisce about ‘the good old days.’

  16. You have access to clean drinking water.

  17. You have access to medical care.

  18. You have access to the Internet.

  19. You can read.

The truth is, you’re doing better than a lot of people in this world. 

So remember to be grateful for all the things you do have.

first published in Marc & Angel hack Life BY: MARC CHERNOFF www.marcandangel.com/2012/11/28/19-signs-youre-doing-better-than-you-think

NEW!

First published November 17, 2013 Medium image Orianna Fielding

The Alternative Christmas Gift guide

Buy one less gift for someone who doesn’t need it. 

Give the value of that gift to someone who does.

Christmas has become a sparkling, shiny, gift-wrapped symbol of mass over consumption.

With the countdown to the season finale, ‘Christmas day’ itself, punctuated by the fevered online spending of Cyber Monday , (the monday after Thanksgiving in the US) which last year reached the staggering total of $1.98 Billion dollars in one day in addition to all the online and off-line pre-big day sales, we are destined to spend more than some third world countries’ GDP in a period of 4 weeks.

TV advertising further subtly works on our emotional trigger points with a plethora of family filled mis — en scenes, wrapped in the warm glow of harmonious gatherings, enraptured children and mountains of wrapped gifts , together happily indulging in pre-prepped, pre-cooked foods all designed to encourage us to consume even more.

Like waking from a dream, the soft focus, sugar coated pull of these seasonal fairy tales is periodically broken by a full screen shot of an orphan crying standing alone or the harrowing images of starving children in the ever more frequent disaster zones that have suffered yet another manifestation of climactic devastation, where millions of people are lost, homeless or have lost their lives. These sharp reminders of the harsh, tragic reality of our world beyond the glistening perimeter of our candy coated seasonal fables , appeal for our help in the form of a small donation.

Given that it is Christmas ‘ the season of goodwill’ most of us will send off our small donation, on average .05% of the amount we will spend on gifts, dinners, parties, clothes for partying and stocking the tree, and yet by doing that we feel that we have done ‘our charity bit’ for the year. Charitable donation. Check. We feel good. It’s our modern day equivalent of buying an Absolution, a form of Medieval ‘Pay as you go’ ecclesiastical pardon, sold in the form of pieces of paper by the Priesthood to their parishioners, to absolve them of their guilt.

We can now carry on spending, over-consuming right up to the last minute before the ’day‘ itself with a clear conscious, because we have ‘done our bit.’ But can we? How can we live in a world where ‘putting back’ is an occasional after thought, mostly annually via a charity donation, sometimes more regularly with a small monthly donation.

How can it be OK to put back one day a year when we take out for the other 364?

No wonder our natural world us close to collapse. If our world, our global community were a business run on those same principles of taking out 364 days a year and putting back during 1 day a year, it would be bankrupt several times over.

We cannot continue to consume mindlessly, taking the planet’s resources, the hours of underpaid workers , and excessive materials used, for granted any longer. We have to stop and think about the implication of our consumption. We have to adopt a more conscious approach starting with the question ‘ do I really need this’? Does the person I am buying this for need this? Undoubtedly the resounding answer will be ‘NO’. Will your life change if you don’t buy this or gift this ? ‘NO’ But you could change someone else’s life if you chose to donate the amount you would have spent on yet another superfluous gift, to someone in need.

Surely that is the true spirit of ‘Christmas, a spitrit of community, of generosity, of caring. We need to seek out a new set of values, find new ways of being where the social dividend you earn is through putting back not taking out, Because we seem to have lost sight of the fundamental truth that giving, gives you so much more than getting.

We are living in a world where everything that nurtures us and makes us feel good, money can’t buy. Our natural world, our community, our relationships are priceless. Life itself, and just getting to live another day on our extraordinary planet, IS the gift.

My Alternative Christmas Gift guide

  • Buy one less gift for someone who doesn’t need it. Donate what you would have spent on that gift to someone who does.
  • Give your time, give of yourself to someone who needs it.
  • Make something/ bake something/ transform something that has some of ‘you’ in it!
  • Share your skills / donate your skills in voucher form in hourly segements
  • Handwrite a letter/ poem/ story. It means so much more than a store bought one.
  • Give ‘ a hug’ voucher to be redeemed in times of need!
  • Join Kiva, a non-profit organization which connects people through lending to those in need to alleviate poverty and support community self- sufficiency projects
  • Register with Sokind , a new form of gift registry aimed firmly at those who value experiences over material goods, handmade crafts over mass-produced gadgets, and gently used and carefully selected pre-loved goods over things they’ll probably use once and never see again.
  • Volunteer your time to support your local community.
  • Gift a museum membership

   WRITTEN BY orianna fielding Eco icon finder, designer, author , broadcaster, retailer …following the principles of Wabi Sabi…learning to love the beauty of imperfection….learning that to ignore the facts doesn’t change the facts and remembering that it is never too late to become what you might have been….and that it is better to be kind than to be right. Personal mission: finding how to feed the soul without starving the planet. Published November 17, 2013

PUBLISHED IN MEDIUM https://medium.com/a-compass-for-life-and-love/d099c8edda59″>https://medium.com/a-compass-for-life-and-love/d099c8edda59 Tips on Life and Love  

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “Thought of the week

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s