|My idea of bliss|
There were fewer of us this year. Over warm scones with orange-infused butter, we reflected on our family. One cousin recently turned 60, and we noted how she's now lived longer than several in her immediate family—both her mom and two sisters left this plane by that age, and looking a little more broadly, we've all lived longer than several others.
So we had to acknowledge how grateful we are. We all have it pretty good. We're generally healthy, working, and in relationships that work for us. And we're not actively engaging in addictive or destructive behavior like a few others who are remarkably still around.
What a gift... a gift we gave ourselves.
Giving and receiving
We're now in the throes of the holiday season... a time for giving to others as well as receiving. While I'm less of a consumer than I used to be, I do love finding just the right gift for someone or putting a fun package together.
That said, giving is so much easier than receiving. Don't get me wrong. I love gifts. But I often feel uncomfortable when offered something I feel I haven't earned in some way, or perhaps haven't reciprocated, whether it's a gift, a compliment, or an act of kindness.
This isn't uncommon.
It's important to learn that it's OK to just receive and say thank you. When we receive a gift from someone else, they're giving themselves a gift, too... it makes us feel good to give to others. And, if we give and never receive, we end up depleted.
Acknowledging our good
Whether it's doing a gratitude practice every day, like I do, or just counting your blessings as you see them, it's important to acknowledge the good we have in our lives. Because good begets good.
My life is hardly perfect, and it can still be hard. But hard is what makes it better. It's that act of moving through something, finding an answer or solution, of feeling accomplished, that brings meaning and satisfaction.
Which is, as I continually learn, what life is all about. It's less about happiness and more about meaning and purpose. The more deeply we know this, the better our lives become. How often have you said, "I'll be happy when..." or "I'll be happy if..." When we get whatever that is, something else replaces it. To relentlessly pursue happiness is a way to live in a constant state of unhappiness.
How's that for wisdom? But think about it. If we're always out there looking for something we say we want, then we don't have what we want right now. That's a recipe for discontent. Happiness is right here, right now, in the journey; we find it in the meaning and purpose we assign to our lives, along with what we do, and who we spend our time with. We can even find joy in pain. (Yes, it's true, although we may not fully get that until we're on the other side.)
Looking back over the year
December is a time when many of us look back over the year. Radio stations play the top songs, writers and readers share their book lists, newspapers review the top stories.
Many of us do this, too, although it may just live in our heads. Before looking at the year ahead and setting new intentions or goals, it's useful to assess the year and write it down.
What worked well for you this last year? What are you most proud of? What do you want more of that you started? Are there lessons gleaned from what didn't work well?
No need to lament or shame yourself if you didn't reach your goals; we can be optimistic about what we can accomplish and forget to account for real-life twists and turns. There's always something to be learned.
How much good can you stand?
So I'm curious: How good can you stand it? What would you love to receive? What brings your life meaning? What would it feel like to live in joy or bliss? Where do you feel that?
I feel bliss when I'm outside, in the woods or on the water. Sometimes I feel it when I meditate or when I reflect and write my gratitude lists. I feel it when I'm with my partner. Bliss is fleeting, but oh so satisfying for those brief moments as it melts into contentment.
It's up to you to state it, create it, find it, own it, and be that which brings you meaning, purpose, and ultimately, joy.
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