Reality Check: The Gift

If you’ve gone shopping recently, you’ve likely noticed that there are quite a few people out and about! Some folks love being immersed in the hustle and bustle and excitement.

However, as I’m not an enthusiastic shopper under the best of conditions, when the streets are full and the parking lots are fuller, I’d rather avoid it as much as I can.

It’s not that I want to avoid the joy and the giving and the celebrating, not at all. And in the big picture, my frustrations are pretty minor. For example, I dislike the waste of time spent waiting in lines, and I don’t enjoy the experience of finally figuring out exactly what I want to buy, only to find it’s available exactly nowhere.

Some folks, however, have significantly more serious frustrations. Take stress, for example. You might be feeling financial stress, lack-of-time stress, or the “judgment stress” that comes with thinking that you are not living up to expectations (even when the expectations are self-imposed.)

It can be even more dissatisfying when you, or the people around you, have the expectation that you are “supposed” to be cheerful at this time of year.

Perhaps instead of feeling joy and contentment, you feel frustration.

Why? Maybe you don’t have the energy or time that you want to have, maybe other people are not behaving as you want them to, or maybe you’re carrying a sadness or heartache that you can’t seem to (or don’t want to) let go of.

It’s hard to feel satisfied if you perceive that your happiness is controlled by some person or expectation outside of you. But you can’t control every factor that affects you, can you?

Despite that reality, how might you “take charge” of yourself?

If your wants and expectations are very different from your reality, then it may be a reasonable time to ask yourself, “Why am I doing this?”

Let’s use the giving of gifts as an example. In a conversation about gift-giving in a store the other day, I overheard a fellow shopper say, “I’ve gotten into a habit that I don’t know how to stop.”

You may feel “gift-giving fatigue” when the phone keeps ringing, asking for donations for yet another worthy cause. Or when you look at your long lists and struggle with making appropriate choices.

However, if joy in your life includes giving meaningful gifts, then I know that you don’t want to feel tired, discouraged or resentful about it. But what if you can’t shake that feeling? Here’s a suggestion.

Look for one person or one organization to whom you could give a gift that would really make a difference for the recipient. Maybe it’s a traditional gift that comes in a pretty box wrapped in pretty paper. Or maybe a more effective gift would be a gift of time or money. Maybe it’s a gift of a phone call or a letter, a meal or a bottle of wine. Or chocolate!

I’m offering the suggestion to choose a recipient who would not expect, but who would truly appreciate, the gift that you give. Then give it. See how that feels. Did that reduce a bit of your gift-giving fatigue? Does it make a positive difference in your reality?

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