I get it. I do. You work hard and you kind of like it, don’t you? You stay that extra hour at the office because you take pride in your job. You study for eight hours on a Saturday because you want that grade. It’s not unusual for you to get started on your daily tasks and completely lose track of time. You’ve even forgotten to eat before, haven’t you? That’s not unusual—you forget to take breaks because, well, who has time to think about breaks when there’s work to be done? Maybe it’s because you get a sense of achievement from persevering through a tough job. Or maybe you just like being able to say “Yeah, I earned 12 credits per month for three months straight. No big deal.” The point is, I get it—because I’m the same way. This community, I think by our nature of being the self-driven, highly motivated, unbound individuals we are, is easily the hardest working group I know. I love that about us, and I wouldn’t change it. But guess what? The music is playing and has been for weeks now. The decorations are out. Trees are going up in the living room, waiting for the family to gather around. The cards are coming in and being put up in the same place they were last year. The snow is falling (for the lucky among us). The nights are long and cold, but we stay warm snuggled up by the fire. It’s finally that time of year again: Christmas! And as difficult as it can be for us to slow down a little and take a break from life, we’re going to have to if we want to actually enjoy the season. That’s right. I said take a break. *insert collective gasp here*
“The aim of life is to live, and to live means to be aware, joyously, drunkenly, serenely, divinely aware.” - Henry Miller
Isn’t it true that when our nose is to that grindstone we love so much, our awareness of life is woefully narrow. With our focus so intent on one part of our life, isn’t it true that we miss out on many of the experiences life has for us? If you don’t know what I’m talking about, think about this: have you ever gone from Monday to Friday, and looking back on your week, not remember Wednesday? This is what happens when we allow ourselves to be consumed, day after day, by one small segment of our life. Of course, when we think about nothing else, when we are stressed out by deadlines or when work or school is our highest priority, we tend to feel like we need to keep our nose firmly pressed to that grindstone. How else could we can possibly get our work done? It also doesn’t help that we kind of like the grindstone. However, this way of grinding through life—focused only on work or school—comes with a cost.
We become so busy with life, that we forget to live.
Why would anybody want to “live” like this during Christmas? Why would anyone want to live like this at all? This Christmas, lets make it a point to step away from the grind, to live, and maybe even to relax a little. During a season that’s so full of experiences, love, and life, let us not let life pass us by. True, deadlines and bills don’t magically disappear just because Silent Night is playing on the radio. However, it’s also true that there’s more to life than work, school, and grind. And I can’t think of a better time of year to remember this truth than right now. So here are some ways to help you to start relaxing and actually enjoy your holiday season. Look up This is very simple advice, and also quite practical. Make looking at the horizon, at the sky, at the trees and buildings rising high above you, at the loved one across the room, a habit this Christmas season. Practice being aware of your environment and the people around you. I think you’ll be surprised of the amount beauty that passes you by when you keep your head down and your attention focused entirely on work. I’m not saying that you should daydream on the job, I’m just saying to be more aware in the moment. Practice being mindful of and thankful for the little moments of life Life is made up of a series of little moments that too often go by without notice when we’re too focused on life’s stresses. Think about reading Christmas stories to your little relatives, singing Christmas carols around the neighborhood, or going to see Christmas lights with your family, hot chocolate in hand. When grandpa tells that one joke that has the entire family spiting food across the table. That smile that you share with someone in the glow of a candlelit church service on Christmas Eve. Try to be more aware of these little moments of life, because they are what fill you with life, not the things that stress you out. Let these little moments slip by unnoticed and you’ll find that life slips by too. Disconnect from technology
Our phones have ruined us. It’s hard to dispute that they’ve made us, as a culture, antisocial, anxious, and addicted to instant gratification. It’s difficult to find any sort of social gathering—whether that’s a corner coffee shop, office party, or family gathering—where actual conversation and connection is happening and nobody is sneaking a peak at some sort of screen. We connect more with our phones than with other people. Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Google—these companies know more about us than some family members. So I’d like to challenge you, if only for a day, to turn your phone off. See what happens when you make it a point to connect to the people around you. Use your time off to adventure Chances are, you’re going to have at least some time off of work or school this Christmas. During that time, get together with friends and family and do something that you’ve never done before. It doesn’t have to be anything grand; and it certainly should not be stressful. You probably should even try to avoid planning this adventure as much as possible. The goal should simply be to create a new experience with people you care about. To throw yourself into something just a little bit new and exciting. To make memories. To laugh and be joyful as you discover something magical. To take a break, as much as you can for a moment or a day, from the busy life you lead and to live. Just remember, we’re not meant to merely work our lives away, we’re also meant to live. So if you can, try this Christmas to relax and live and experience and be aware of a little more life than usual. Merry Christmas Everyone! Written by Wyatt Dalton