In keeping with the Governor’s commitment to provide a little note each month during our current Optimist year, the following is the December contribution to your thoughts of optimism.
While approaching the holiday season, it was hard to make a decision about the message I planned to share. It finally came down to a decision of not what I wanted you to hear but more what I needed to hear. I didn’t mean hear from you but more like “self-talk”. I wanted to have a message that could be of interest to all of us. I find that most of us are aging or have already. Some of us could be considered to be seniors on a fixed income or many on a limited source of income. I thought of that concern because so many of us look to this time of year as being “the season of giving”. I came to the realization many of us, generally myself included, are looking at the season of giving in the literal sense rather than from a viewpoint advantageous to all of us.
The common thread I found was almost all of us have hunkered down with the onset of the harsher season. That in itself will frequently bring on depression or sadder moods. That can be compounded by one’s perception they cannot afford to participate in the season of giving quite as much as they would like. Is there a solution to this situation? I thought maybe I had found a partial solution.
I looked back to the theme for this year. Live the Creed. The creed has two phrases that include the concept of giving. I was pleased to find that one phrase referred to giving to others; “give every living creature you meet a smile.” The second makes reference to giving to yourself; “give so much time to the improvement of yourself…” I was more pleased to see one phrase was to others and one phrase was to give to oneself. To me that meant the ability to maintain balance in life. A focus toward seeking a balance in life is one to be frequently sought.
I thought back to my experience of shopping for the holidays. As I wandered through the various stores, I noted those that were shopping with joy and those that were apparently shopping for the chore of it. I had thought of all of the examples of persons who simply walked through a crowd giving out smiles just to check out the reactions. Well it appears to be valid. Giving out smiles while faced with the task of holiday shopping does appear to get back its own rewards. Others begin smiling back at you and even more begin smiling to others they pass in the busy aisles. In the view of an Optimist member, you have just given a holiday gift that cost you absolutely nothing and yet it was a gift that kept on giving.
The second phrase was easier for me to understand. The phrase, “Give so much time to the improvement of yourself…” I have found it difficult in years passed to figure out a way to give to myself during the holiday season. I seldom shop for myself, even some of the necessities, because I am too focused on setting aside money to spend on loved ones. But that isn’t what it says. It says give so much time.
Those of us who have raised children realize one of the greatest gifts we have to give is time. We were giving it to career at times when we realized we could have been giving it to our families. But what does it mean to give so much time to the improvement of yourself? This is the season that lends itself best to this. Most of us have more time once we hunker down for the harsher season. Use that time to read, thus improving your mind. It goes a long way toward providing relaxation as well. Use it to write, maybe letters you have put off or entries in a journal intended strictly for yourself. Give yourself the time to plan your vacation next year. You will not only have this task out of the way, but the idea of a vacation may even perk up your seasonal mood. Give yourself time to plan some of the details of your retirement.
Developing a budget for your golden years may take time away from other things were it not already the season to be indoors and away from all of that yard work. Having these smaller tasks behind you allows you to become more optimistic about the coming new year and your ability to be relaxed and prepared for it.
You have just met the life hints of the creed head on and it didn’t cost you a single dime. Yet you have given important opportunities to others and to yourself during the season of giving. Here is wishing you all a wonderful, loving, and safe holiday season.