Ah, the holiday season of good will and cheer is finally here. What does that mean to you?
Shopping? Snow? Gift giving? A time to spend with family and friends? There is something about this time of year that seems to bring in as much pressure as the joy that it was originally intended to bring. This time of year reminds me of the game Musical Chairs.
Have you ever played Musical Chairs? The premise is simple. The players walk around a line of chairs while music plays. When the music suddenly stops, everybody runs to sit in the nearest chair. There is always at least one chair less than the number of players. The one who is left standing without a chair is eliminated from the game. Each round will determine the next person to be eliminated from the game until there is only one winner who gets to sit in the only chair that remains at the end of the game.
As a child, whenever I played Musical Chairs I felt a knot in the pit of my stomach. I hated the feeling of being the one left standing. For a moment I felt alone and rejected as I hung my head in defeat and exited the game. As adults we are still playing the game when we scramble to be with other people during the holidays.
One could spend an evening alone at home and feel quite content. But, if that evening happens to be New Year’s Eve, then somehow, that person is labeled a loser because they are not out partying and drinking while pretending to care about the whereabouts of a glittery ball dropping from the top of a building in freezing Times Square at midnight – like everyone else is pretending to do.
Holidays and birthdays can become painful experiences when we allow our expectations to be unrealistically high, thereby causing the outcome to be disappointing. Why in the world would we allow ourselves to be subjected to the internal pressure of labeling ourselves as “ok” or “not ok” based on our social plans or whether we want to socialize or not? Why do we unnecessarily torture ourselves this way?
There were years when these kinds of occasions were very painful and lonely for me. During those times, I did not understand why. Thanks to learning basic kabbalistic principles, I am going to share the secret of what it takes to transform those potentially painful, lonely occasions into happy and fulfilling ones.
When you stop and think about it, it is not the occasion itself that causes us to scramble. It is the realization that this occasion reflects back to us how, and with whom, we have been investing our precious energy all year long.
While the music of daily living is playing, I could ask myself, “Am I busy running around in my circle of self-concern, or am I investing my energy into sharing with and loving others?”
So, when the ‘music’ stops on days like Chanukah, Christmas, New Year’s Eve or a birthday, if I felt I was left standing alone, I was incurring the effects of my lack of effort in investing in the important relationships in my life every other day of the year.
If you want to make those special occasions more fulfilling, then ask yourself the following questions:
- How much time do I spend being truly present with my spouse or partner, my children and all the people who matter most to me (without a smartphone or tablet in sight)?
- How much time and energy do I give to my community?
You see, it is the time we invest in caring and sharing with others every day that is reflected back to us on those special occasions.
So, if you want to make your holiday season or any other special occasion a more joyful and fulfilling one, then realize that TODAY is the day to share more, care more and sacrifice more for another. Today is the day to love more, open our hearts more, appreciate those around us more.
Starting right now, we can choose to say ‘I love you’ one more time, hug one more time, make someone else smile one more time. Let’s remember to live TODAY as a ‘special occasion’.
And then, when you least expect it, someone special may even save you a seat the next time the music stops.