From Thanksgiving to Christmas, and into the New Year…hands down, has to be one of my favorite times of the year. As I people watch, I witness some of the coldest hearts being transformed, even if just for a moment, to fit into the warmth of seasonal norms and euphoria; and I will take it! As I intentionally sit in gratitude and reflect on just what this season means to me; I invite you to grab a seat at my table as I serve dishes focused on moments of Giving, Community and Reflection with the sweet desserts of Love.
At its foundational core and stirred up in the sweet essence of this season, is the giving of oneself for the benefit of another; a vivid display of how we honor and express human value through acts of kindness and selflessness. Leading with such a concept causes value to never be a question. Giving, effortlessly is two-fold (projective and reflective) at minimum; as it not only benefits the recipient, but it pays homage to those who have given to us. Let’s be honest, from birth and taking our first breath, to our first of many steps; we didn’t make it here alone.
When truly awakened, the joy of giving and generosity far exceeds possessional wealth with a richness that quenches the thirst of so many. A richness that is never birthed from the closed eyes of guilt, but from a commitment to seeing and living in the awareness of the thirst of others as we sip open-handed and open-minded from the well of abundance…and commit to endow. Who would have thought, that in the midst of pandemic-driven economic uncertainty, Americans would open up their pocketbooks and give a record 471.44 billion according to Giving USA’s 2020 Annual Report; such a strong indicator that we get it, and many hearts are there! So, what does that look like?
- Giving the least of what you have, what you don’t need, what you won’t miss; you know…something, dependent upon the timing of the next Goodwill versus trash run, will determine its fate.
- Giving what you use or like, what you can afford; something that you wouldn’t mind receiving yourself.
- Giving the very best of what you have, more than what you keep for yourself, more than you can afford; the giving of something without expectation or reciprocity.
Giving at any level is profound, but with anything when we recognize and aspire to reach the next level, outcomes are impacted! Such aspirations in concert with the thoughts of humanitarian and Indian guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar as expressed in Celebrating Silence, compounds this beautiful equation: Poor people fight for food. Rich people share their food. Richer are those who share power. Richer still are those who share fame. Richest of all are those who share themselves. A person’s wealth is measured by his ability to share and not by what he hoards.”
Not Facebook groups and likes, or Instagram follows; but a return to the traditional, old-school trysts and submersions into physical community and connection that cultivates an organic social existence. Being engulfed in a community of like-minded people and emotions feeds the acceleration and elevation of one’s existence. It is in this space that we experience inclusion, diversity, support, opinions, ideas and knowledge; a whirlwind of presence requiring engagement in real-time creativity and critical thinking at levels never experienced when alone…and that is such a good thing! With seven-in-ten Americans using social media platforms to connect, we cannot deny that social media is a great resource, especially across the miles, but algorithms will never solve the spiritually and scientifically based need for physical interaction and engagement that we as humans crave.
As if that’s not enough, the health benefits of community from offsetting stressors, and impacting grief management to protecting cognitive heath as noted by Everyday Health, is a firm indicator that positive relationships should rank up there with healthy eating and exercise as a necessary investment. With research that supports a 50% decline in mortality due to these positive relationships per the PLOS Medicine Review; it is clear, community is a must as we were not created to physically exist alone.
As one of the most important elements in self-awareness, I consider reflection to be: the conscious culmination of introspect and retrospect impacting prospects. Like the beautiful flakes of freshly fallen snow, this season carries so many opportunities for reflection with the warmth of awareness and gratitude resting just on the other side. Reflection offers the opportunity to exist in a previous moment within a current moment to cultivate a future moment resulting in growing moments; it is the first step…the best step towards exposing the best version of you! As with any intro to consumption, below you will find a few appetizers to stimulate a grand serving of reflection:
- Think of a habit (good or bad) and become aware of how it impacts you, as well as others; allow those thoughts to lead to potential action steps.
- Intentionally sit in gratitude and identify three or more things you are grateful for; welcome and rest within the emotions that they evoke.
- Set goals based on recognizing and surpassing previous accomplishments; allowing the “I have been here before” to feed your confidence.
As I travel through my rolodex (yes, that is a thing, and I have successfully dated myself…) of self-defining moments encapsulated in each day and year that I am blessed to open my eyes and profoundly step into; I am so thankful for the many reasons for this season.
It is through giving, embracing community and reflection that I commit to recognizing human value. Through the non-profit efforts of Charism Enterprise, not only do I recognize it, but I highlight it through sacrificial service… inserting myself into communities with people who may not look like me, but deserve the best of me, through giving what I think I can’t afford, without an expected return. Unless connections and relationships are bathed in balanced generosity, engagement and reflection; they won’t stand a chance in the drouth of the world; it’s the residue of these things that guarantee freshness, interest and contagious connections. If I am sipping from the well of abundance, I am committed to making sure others can too! Let’s Connect!