The Real Meaning of Christmas: From Commercialization to Humanization

I’m going to go a little tree-hugger with you today on what I believe to be the real meaning of Christmas. Take this with you as you think about getting into the spirit of the holiday season.

How We’ve Strayed from the Real Meaning of Christmas

My favorite holiday is Thanksgiving. Why? Because it allows us to briefly step off of the roller-coaster of life and to gather with — and to appreciate — those special loved ones in our lives. It also allows us to remember those that are no longer with us.

I would also have to say my least favorite holiday is Christmas. Because to me, Christmas has become over commercialized and in an unfortunate way, seems to have lost its human touch. So what can be done to recapture some of the real meaning and spirit of the Christmas holiday season?

An Inspiring Quote from Bruce Lee

As we aim to recapture the real meaning of Christmas, I’m going to cite a quote I recently heard from Bruce Lee, the internationally known Chinese-American actor, director, martial artist, martial arts instructor, and philosopher. Now I know Bruce Lee is not someone you would usually associate with Christmas festivities, but go with me on this one.

Bruce once said in a television interview: ”If every man would help his neighbor, no man would be without help.” I love this quote for the beauty, simplicity and power of Bruce Lee’s message. Let’s break it down…

Part I: If every man would help his neighbor

What the first part of this quote says to me is the importance of lending a helping hand to a fellow man/woman in your sphere. This can be as simple as spending time with someone that lives alone or helping with a specific priority task, to inviting them to be a part of your holiday festivities. The act isn’t about what it is you do (or even about you at all) but rather the awareness of someone else’s plight and then voluntarily reaching out and helping them in their time of need.

Part II: No man would be without help

The second part of this quote says to me that if everyone was to give of themselves to help another in need then no man/woman would be in need … because their need(s) would have been met. The selfless act of one person giving to someone in need would in turn create an exponential ripple effect — like a stone thrown into a pond — of kindness, goodwill and giving throughout the world. It would make the world a better place for all. (This is where I’m going tree-hugger on you, but I really believe it to be true.)

Take a Step to Humanize Christmas This Year

So for this Christmas holiday I would encourage you to try something: make it a point to spend a little less time focusing on the buying of presents (commercialization) and a little more time on the giving of your presence (humanization) to your fellow neighbor.

It truly will make the world a better place. And isn’t that the real meaning of Christmas? Wishing all a safe, happy, healthy 2019 holiday season!

Larry Bird Quotes: The World Through His Eyes

It would be sacrilegious for a long-time Boston Celtics fan to write blog post #33 (and yes, I’m counting) about anything other than “The Hick from French Lick,” also known as Larry Legend, #33 for the 1980’s Boston Celtics … you know … Larry Bird. In his honor, I will be talking a bit about his history (both personal and professional) and sharing some Larry Bird quotes of wisdom.

Bird’s Highlights

According to Nat Berman’s post “The 10 Most Inspirational Quotes by Larry Bird,” Larry Bird is the only person in the history of the National Basketball Association (NBA) to be named Most Valuable Player, Coach of the Year, and Executive of the Year.

After spending 13 years as a player with the Boston Celtics, during which he was an 11-time All Star, and won a trophy case full of awards, three NBA Championships, and an Olympic gold medal, Larry Bird retired from playing in 1992 and moved on to coaching.

 Just as he excelled as an athlete, Larry led the Indiana Pacers to some of the biggest franchise moments, including a 2000 NBA Finals appearance against the Los Angeles Lakers.

Larry Bird Quotes: In His Own Words

What better way to acknowledge the greatness of the man than to share some great Larry Bird quotes:

• “I don’t know if I practiced more than anybody but I sure practiced enough. I still wonder if somebody-somewhere was practicing more than me.”

• “I learned what my weaknesses were and I went out the next day to turn those weaknesses into strengths.”

• “A winner is someone who recognizes his God-given talents, works his tail off to develop them into skills, and uses these skills to accomplish his goals.”

“Push yourself again and again. Don’t give an inch until the final buzzer sounds.”

“I’ve got a theory that if you give 100% all of the time, somehow things will work out in the end.”

• “Don’t let winning make you soft. Don’t let losing make you quit. Don’t let your teammates down in any situation.”

• “You can make all the excuses you want. but if you’re not mentally tough and you’re not prepared to play every night, you’re not going to win.”

And there you have it, the world thought the eyes of a legend, Larry Bird. Take notes. There’s a lot we all can learn from “The Hick from French Lick.”

5 Things to Be Thankful for This Thanksgiving

As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday, so many people are busy preparing food, watching a parade, starting their holiday shopping, or cheering on their favorite football team. But this year, I’d like to plant a different seed in your mind: things to be thankful for this Thanksgiving; things that you might have taken for granted in years’ past.

Face it: most of us blow through the holiday season at warp speed. But when you wake up this Thanksgiving morning, I want you to pay special attention to the following events throughout the day. And without further ado….

Five Things to Be Thankful For

1. Freedom to travel. If you are traveling to a Thanksgiving Day destination, stop and think for a moment about how fortunate we are to have the luxury of freedom of movement — be it across town or across the country — via our method of choice. Also, consider the fact that there are no restrictions placed on where we can spend our holiday or with who(m) we choose to congregate, both foreign concepts in some countries.

2. Freedom of expression. Sitting around the Thanksgiving table, most families become engaged in conversations ranging from the Thanksgiving Day parade and NFL games on TV, to … ahem … current events (and, no, I’m not talking about the weather). Regardless of the subject matter, we have the freedom to express our thoughts, ideas, and philosophies of life with one another (hopefully in a civil manner) without fear of incrimination.

3. Friends and family. As you sit down for your Thanksgiving meal, take note of the family members and friends around the table. This moment, for many, can be a time of both joy and sadness, as we reflect on family members and close friends no longer with us. Now, I’m by no means trying to bum you out. What I hope is that you recognize and acknowledge how much you appreciate those special individuals gathered with you on this Thanksgiving 2019.

4. Freedom of beliefs. Before the Thanksgiving meal, families may choose to offer a blessing for those gathered, former family members, and the food itself. We have the opportunity to express our beliefs and gratitude (or not) in the manner of our choosing without restriction. And the Thanksgiving meal can be whatever we and those with us want it to be. This again is a privilege we should recognize and appreciate.

5. The positive changes you’ve made this year. Lastly, I want you to think about how your life has changed in 2019. Have you initiated these changes — personal, professional, health etc. — or have they been forced upon you? Which changes are you most proud of? And how can you experience more joy and happiness in your life and with loved ones in the New Year?

There you have it. Five things to be thankful for this year that you may not have thought of otherwise. Wishing all a safe and Happy Thanksgiving 2019!

The Power of Gratitude in Hard Times

How To Have Gratitude In Hard Times

It is easy to feel grateful during the good times but during hard times, it can be difficult to feel grateful. However, gratitude can be a very powerful force that can bring feelings of hope and can help heal us. Gratitude is essential to getting us through tough times. 

Feeling Grateful Vs. Being Grateful

There is a difference between feeling grateful and being grateful. It can be easy to fall into the trap of just feeling sorry for ourselves when things are down. And it is okay to feel all of your emotions–it is unhealthy to deny what you feel. Feelings are formed by how we look at the world, so by practicing gratitude, even during the darkest of days, we can help lead our feelings to a better place. 

Gratitude Is A Choice

The old adage is that being grateful is a choice and it certainly is something that must be practiced. But it is well worth the work. Gratitude is the foundation that allows us to view our life through a different lense. It is like standing on a mountaintop, allowing us to see everything in our lives, both good and bad. It changes our perspective. To get there, you must first climb that mountain. 

Shift Your Perspective

Practicing gratefulness is not about learning to buck up and count your blessings. It is more about shifting your perspective. This deliberate practice in shifting your perspective means that you have to actively seek it. Start with just one little thing. Whether that small thing is some tasty food or a friend you can lean on, these small things, really aren’t all that small. These are the things that give us life but they are also easy to overlook, especially if it is something that is familiar or innate. Take a moment to notice these things. Soak them up and feel a sense of gratitude for them. Even just by taking a minute to enjoy something that brings you happiness can help to shift your perspective and allow you to start from a better place to deal with the challenges in front of you. 

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” It can be comforting to know that we are not alone in our suffering. But it can also be nice to take the focus off of your own troubles, even for a little while, to help someone else deal with their burden. Whether it is just listening to someone talk about what is upsetting them or letting someone cut ahead of you in line, it can be healing to be kind. When times get tough, it is important that we reach out to one another and feel grateful for that connection.

It is important to remember that gratitude is a life-long practice. You must actively work on it each day and it also won’t automatically make everything sunshine and roses. But when used, it is certainly a powerful coping tool to help us weather the storm.