The holiday season is upon us and with it the choice to buy more ‘stuff.’ I’m not talking about the gifts we buy for others but about the marketing message to ‘buy something special for ourselves.’ It seems to have become a right of passage that holiday shopping is not complete unless we remember to ‘gift’ ourselves. Thus the topic of more stuff becomes a reality.
George Carlin, the comedian who attempted to raise our social consciousness for over 30 years did a classic standup routine about the importance we place on acquiring ‘stuff’ in our lives. Although he died in 2008 his observations are timeless. His YouTube video is worth watching.
Are we so superficial that simply acquiring things is our end game? If so, will that next outfit, car, or house cause us to reach a state of Nirvana where we finally say to ourselves, ‘Now I have everything I want.’ Probably not. Obsessive behavior breeds itself. Could in be that our continual buying and accumulating is simply a way to feed our insatiable egos and to keep the heavy lifting of self improvement at bay? Honestly looking at our own insecurities and doing something about them is the real gift we can give ourselves this season. The bottom line is that we will never acquire enough to give us self-confidence or peace in our lives. That takes time and courage to a whole lot of deep digging. Who we are as a person and what is truly important to us are big questions that may be worth pondering.
Put another way, is having the biggest, fastest or most stuff in our lives really the goal we want to work toward? There was a bumper sticker in the ’90’s that read, ‘The Man With the Most Toys Wins.’ Really? My question is wins what? Have we linked our identity to the ‘stuff’ we so fervently purchase? An easy way to check our values is to think about what we would take with us if we had 20 minutes to evacuate our surroundings. In a survey on happiness most people responded to this question by saying they would take their family pictures. Their response shows that love and relationships trumps things or stuff every time. Our own answer to this question reveals what’s most important in our own life.
When you think about what we will take out of this world (literally the clothes on our backs) when we pass on it puts everything in perspective. Rather than falling into the trap of accepting the holiday marketing message of ‘gifting’ ourselves we could stop, look and listen to our hearts. In so doing we may decide that turning the kaleidoscope of our thinking ever so slightly to develop a deeper understanding of self and offering true caring for others is the true message of the holiday season. If we want to ‘gift’ ourselves maybe we could do so by mending fences, seeking compromise or offering a hand to someone in need. Those are the types of gifts that keep on giving and last a lifetime.
A recent article in The New York Times stated that due to lower gas prices we will be able to buy more ‘stuff’ this holiday season. Great, just what we needed! Maybe – just maybe – we can think about a better use of our time, attention and money. Could it be it all boils down to determining what is really most important in our lives and reallocating our time to nurturing them? That’s something you can’t buy – it’s way more valuable than a mere purchase – but its worth its weight in gold. It’s something to think about…
Have a great few days!