Gifts ~ Is It the Thought that Counts?

Pile of gorgeous gifts

Pile of gifts (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Care to appear happy…..” ~ Saint Therese

Do you ever buy yourself Christmas presents? I do. One of my presents to myself this year is Gretchen Rubin’s book “Happier at Home”. I loved her first book, “The Happiness Project” so thought I would get this sequel of sorts.

In the December chapter of her book, she gives two particularly good pieces of advice. The first is taken from her favourite “obsession”, Saint Therese of Lisieux, whose philosophy entailed taking “care to appear happy and especially to be so.” (p. 116) This  quote from the Saint who died young of tuberculosis, tells me that being happy is something we can conjure up, something that is within our control, no matter how we feel. We can be happy (or at least appear so) if we set our mind to it for the sake of others.

The other piece of advice Gretchen provides in this chapter is extremely timely.  She says that Saint Therese emphasizes “the importance of accepting gifts in the spirit in which they are offered, instead of responding to the gift itself,” which is just another way to “care to appear happy.”

This takes us out of the equation and puts the emphasis on the person who chose the gift for us and the thought and trouble that went into the choice. I love this! I have been guilty in the past of just looking at how I will use a gift, or what I will wear it with, or whether I can keep it alive, or any number of other things, rather than the fact that the gift is an offering of love, thoughtfulness, kind-heartedness and consideration.

So, this holiday season, I am determined to take the time to respond to the spirit in which the gift is given rather than the gift itself.

Gretchen does draw the line at passive-aggressive gifts though. She says that sometimes the spirit in which a gift is given is not all that kind—for example, when someone is gifted running clothes, a certificate to a spinning class and an electronic calorie counter—a none too subtle message is being sent.

I myself would be very unhappy to receive gifts that emphasize “organizing your life”—I am afraid I would have trouble accepting them in the spirit they are given—since that spirit would be a little annoying. I do not need a “teaching moment” gift. (Pearls would be nice though–a single black pearl on a silver chain in particular if anyone is wondering–this is useless as my husband does not read my blog. It is something that he is going to get around to some day. That day has not yet come.)

Have you ever received a gift that you had to remember the spirit in which it was given, because otherwise you would wonder what the heck the person was thinking?

 

~Wise Words from John Lennon’s Mother~

John Lennon

John Lennon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I saw a quote on another *blog this morning and just had to have it on mine. I absolutely love it and it is the essence of all I believe in. John Lennon’s mother was truly a wise woman, and he was truly a wise man for taking her at her word.

He said: “When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy.’ They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.”  

It seems that we are forever striving for this illusive thing called happiness. It is not a trivial pursuit or it would not be in the American Declaration of Independence. It says that along with life and liberty, the pursuit of happiness is an inalienable right. If that doesn’t make it important, I don’t know what would–we need something like that in Canada’s Constitution (maybe we do–I will have to look into this.)

Yesterday my post was a bit self-serving—I was feeling sorry for myself, and not looking beyond a minor transgression. Today is a new day. Today I am going to grow up and be what John Lennon said he wanted to be when he grew up: Happy.

I know it does not happen just because I want it to happen (or does it?) but it is a much better way to live than the alternative. Stuff happens, I know this—but I have decided to start to be Pollyanna-ish. If you reread her books, you will find that she was not so much an optimist as a pragmatist—the girl was really pretty logical. And it is only logical to me to want to be happy.

This post is as much for me as it is for you. We all need to pursue this thing called happiness, as much as we pursue success, money, careers, and whatever else we desire.

My definition of happiness takes in the usual suspects: joy, contentment, and pleasure. But even when those things seem to be missing, I look forward to the next time “something unexpectedly pleasant happens”. It is these times that make our rather haphazard roller coaster ride on this terra firma we call earth, worthwhile.

I am ready to be happy—how about you?

*www.jumpforjoyphotoproject.com

 

Published in: on October 11, 2012 at 2:24 pm  Comments (50)  
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