Why You Shouldn't Knock Gift-Giving

As I always do very early in the season, the other night, I started making a list of Christmas gifts for friends and family.

While I researched, a familiar litany played out in my head: How much would that cost? Can you believe we have a holiday that depends on buying people stuff? 

But as I continued making my list, clicking "Add to Cart" on Amazon, a visual popped up in my head: that of the joy on my friends' and family's faces when they open a gift that I gave to them. 

And suddenly, I was able to work my way out of the cynicism that sometimes comes from the stress of the season: that this holiday, or any holiday, is solely about boosting the free marketplace, that we have bought into consumerism, that we are too materialistic, that we should be ashamed and want for nothing.

Instead, my thoughts went to the book The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman, where he identifies Receiving Gifts as one of the 5 basic languages of love - how we give and receive love.

Although not a primary love language of mine, there are those who, as he puts it, "thrive on the love, thoughtfulness, and effort behind the gift." 

When a male penguin finds a companion, he finds and gives that mate a pebble. He puts effort into finding the perfect pebble, but nevertheless, it is a pebble, something found in nature.

Do you think we all have that primal instinct in us, and it's not about technology, fancy and flashy clothing or other items?

Remember that when someone wants to give you a gift, or if you are on the fence about making a big purchase. 

It's not the gift that counts.

It's that we are communicating an essential type of love. 

And really, how can a holiday get more beautiful than that?

The Tool Hillary Used to Cope Post-Election

No one is immune to the pain of rejection. 

Whether real or self-interpreted, rejection can and will bring with it shame, fear, anxiety, heartbreak, self-doubt.

Such a public, visible, and widespread rejection like losing a presidential candidacy cannot be easy. I picked up Hillary Clinton's new book, What Happened, to hear from the woman many expected to be the United States' 45th President. 

By page 27 (as you can see), she describes the number one thing that helped her cope during that time: yoga and breathwork

When I read this, my heart pumped with excitement. As a woman, I already feel a kinship with Hillary in her loss.

This page made me realize that maybe her losses and our losses aren't so different, after all.

Maybe it really does all come back to the breath. 

Maybe through our pain, we are finally coming home.


Pain is Not Personal

"Unlike in our own culture where we consider illness or depression to be a personal liability or affliction, members of this tribe are not blamed or isolated in their suffering. Rather, suffering is a shared concern."

The more I study ancient methods of healing, the more I realize how essential it is to recognize that our bodies have wisdom that our celebrated 'logical' minds do not. 

And this does not just include our own individual wisdom. The human race has a collective wisdom based on universal emotionjoy, disgust, sadness anger, fear, and more. I believe this wisdom emerges when we work as a whole as opposed to separate beings. 

In the past year, I have been studying the importance of pain. I know it sounds strange, and even harder to accept - but there is a lot to be learned from pain. When we stay with it for long enough, when we take it as part of our human experience and not as something to be rejected, it transforms into lessons that we can use to better understand the world around us. 

I recently read the book Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach, and she confirms the concept that our internal wisdom includes how we live, survive, and move through our pain. Take the story she outlines below as an example of collective wisdom:


With every tragedy in the world - earthquakes, hurricanes and storms, war and violence, rescinding rights from those who have earned them - causes a quickened heartbeat, anxiety, depression, anger, grief - ultimately, the same pain.

That must mean that the ultimate pain is not of the thing we are experiencing.

Our ultimate pain is existence.

To exist is to fear nonexistence. And the way that manifests in the way we are living, whether we are affected by a natural cause or by the hands of others, affects us all. 

That's why when a home is devastated by a hurricane, our homes are devastated too.

That's why when we take away the right to someone's voice, we take away our own voice, too.

We all have the same ultimate pain. Pain is not personal. It is not separated by bodies. It does not affect one body without affecting the other. Pain, although different in each narrative, is the same in everyone.

That is why it is so important to understand when we are afflicting pain on another, in a private or public realm. They are us. We are them.

Pain is not personal - it is universal.