By Mike Crider, author of Twin Dad Talks
I’ve never been a huge Sheryl Crow fan. Sure, I liked some of the early stuff she did, and kind of quit listening when she was doing duets with Ba-wit-da-ba Kid Rock, but her music takes me back to the late ’90’s when I was in high school and music was kind of all over the place (i.e. – Alanis Morisette and Spice Girls??)
One song in particular never made sense to me…”Soak Up the Sun”. And I know the song has been out a long time, but it never occurred to me until this year that the song has two lines in it that can save the holidays from the consumerism that plagues the month of December. In the song she says, “It’s not having what you want, it’s wanting what you’ve got…”
Let’s stop and think about that for a minute. Sheryl, although the rest of the song had me a little confused, makes a profound statement in her lyrics. The secret to happiness, and the key to being content in life, is not the search for things that you don’t currently have. It’s all about wanting the things that you already possess, the items in life that make it possible to not want for anything else.
Now, having said that, everyone, when offered a raise or promotion or bonus, will accept. Why wouldn’t you? But if we take a step back and really ask ourselves what the holidays are about, in most cases, people will tell you it’s a religious reason why we celebrate. But look at how we behave over the holidays, even down to people assaulting each other in retail stores over pallets of Xbox Ones.
I love going out on Thanksgiving night and Black Friday. Not to shop, typically, but to people watch. To be out in the experience is kind of…American. After all, it seems as though everyone thinks “those people” standing in lines are crazy, but retailers rake in bigger profits year after year and start earlier and earlier. It won’t be long until the day before Thanksgiving will be a door-buster event as well.
But Sheryl could save Christmas. And before I proceed, people go Christmas shopping in December primarily, I’m not being politically incorrect, just telling the facts. If the holidays are truly about compassion, about giving, about love and family, then maybe we need to examine how this thought applies to our lives. If we can successfully apply it, then our wants are small and manageable. It is possible to assume that if we truly want what we already have, we are happy.
You may have thought I was crazy before, but I see the wheels turning now. You actually believe a little of what I’m saying. If you don’t believe me, listen to the song, it talks about a carefree attitude, and part of that is not wanting much. If you haven’t heard the song, you may want to put down your Walkman and find the small computers you put on your lap called a “laptop” and look for iTunes. Did you know you can download just about anything…ok, don’t want to overwhelm you. Let me know if you have questions.
Hopefully by now, you’re getting the point. We focus way too much on getting things that we can’t seem to enjoy the holidays and what they are all about. If you sit down and have meaningful conversations with adults, they want time with family. They want time to reflect, think, and enjoy. Personally, nothing is more relaxing to me than waking up early (or staying up late if it’s not a school night) with a cup of hot beverage and sitting near the Christmas tree. No noise, except for the baby monitor in the background.
I started my blog in early August, not knowing really why, but knowing that I wanted to create thoughts that people would get entertainment out of. But it’s always a valid source to reflect on our practices as well, and I think that while we focus so much on getting or giving, our true source of happiness comes from making others happy, whether they be family, friends, or co-workers. But many times, it’s not necessary to give people anything except your time and your full attention (meaning, if you go out to eat, not playing Words with Friends with three other people not at the table). The attention and the meaningful conversations, the face-to-face time (not Facetime) is what is lacking in today’s society.
I encourage you at some point during the holiday season to slow down, and to think about what you already have. Is it really want you want? If it is, you are probably really happy. If you are having difficulty identifying what really makes you happy, find some time to think about this while you are alone, when no one else requires your attention. Despite what society tells us, we need not be connected all the time. And for the love of chocolate, if these random thoughts meant anything to you, don’t thank me, thank Sheryl Crow.