Over the past few years, I have recognized a few things that have impacted the way I choose to live my life and my global view:
1. I own a lot of shit. (I learned this from moving a few times.)
2. Most of the shit serves no functional purpose or carries no meaning.
3. Happiness comes from within, from spending time with people I love, and from doing things I love.
With these 3 items in mind, I have begun to eliminate "things" and focus more on experiences. Then I had 2 additional realizations:
4. There are a lot of people in the world who don't have basic things, like access to clean water.
5. Holidays have largely moved away from their original intent: gratitude, quality time, spreading joy. There are some recent trends counter-acting today's commercialism and materialism, but those two forces are still quite strong.
This year, I have decided to donate the money I would normally spend on gifts to charitable organizations that positively and realistically impact the world. My largest contribution is going to Heifer International. (You might remember Heifer International from Reddit's Secret Santa in 2013.) Another charity I am supporting is Charity: Water.
In addition to donating, I am making a conscious effort to spend more time with loved ones, there are so many things to do... we could grab a meal, a drink, go for a run, take a walk, play a game, complete a puzzle, or simply sit and chat. Spending money on experiences with others is more fulfilling to me: it deepens bonds and creates memories.
Whatever your beliefs, I hope you have a wonderful holiday season and consider (if you haven't already) the reasons you are buying/gifting/giving this year and always. As long as there is intention, love, and thought behind it, I'm all for it!
I am curious to hear your plans this year, if you are doing something similar, or what other alternatives you've come up with - I'm always open to new ideas and different perspectives!