Please don your best high-pitched Charlie Brown caroling voice and sing along with me…
Christmas tiiiiiiiime is here…
Happinessssssss and cheer…
Fun for allllll…
That children callllll…
Their favorite tiiiiiiiime of year.
There isn’t much quite like it.
It’s a time of thankfulness and generosity.
It’s a time of family and tradition.
It’s a time of celebration and relaxation.
But the most important quality of Christmastime is often the most overlooked.
At its very core Christmastime, or Advent, is a time of anticipation and preparation.
We wait and we get ready.
Advent literally means the “arrival of a notable person or thing” and comes from the Latin word for “coming.” But I feel like we forget that sometimes. In all the hustle and bustle of shopping, traveling, and entertaining, I think we often lose sight of the fact that we are waiting and getting ready for something truly amazing.
That’s where the “waiting” comes into play.
The Christmas Spirit is more than lights and music and champagne, for starters.
Anticipation and preparation.
Have you ever thought about this spirit as it applies to you and the rest of your life?
Life is a constant balance between anticipation and preparation or mindfulness and presence. There is an inherent tension between planning for the future and enjoying the present. We are constantly pulled in two distinct directions with two clear choices:
- We can ignore the present moment while working diligently toward the future.
- We can ignore the future while focusing mindfully on the present moment.
Either we are moving forward or we are standing still—mobile or stationary.
These are the polar options that society gives us.
But what if there was a third option—and Door #3 if you will—that we don’t even realize is out there?
What if you could be stationary but not static?
What if you could stand still and move forward simultaneously?
What if you could prepare for the future while enjoying the present?
Well, I hate to ruin the surprise for you, but guess what—you can!
Please, don’t hate me for spilling the beans early. In my family, everyone gets to open one present on Christmas Eve while saving all the rest for Christmas Day. Consider this Timmbit your Christmas Eve treat.
You can be stationary without being static.
I used to think that you had to live in one of the two polar choices. I used to think that if you weren’t moving forward you were standing still. I used to think that I was wasting time if I wasn’t planning for the future.
I mean, how can you avoid all of those motivational posters or Lululemon bags telling you to get going or the world will just pass you by?
Trust me when I tell you—I understand this feeling well.
I know the fear of committing to a present state that isn’t quite where you want to be. I understand the benefit of an nervous mind that keeps you motivated to move forward. I know what it feels like to have a vision for your future and worry that you might lose it if you accept where you are now.
I lived that life for years.
But I also know the absence of connectedness, the theft of joy, and the sting of anxiety that comes with a lack of contentment.
When acceptance and aspiration aren’t balanced, your whole life feels out of whack.
But this third option—being stationary but not static—has made such a difference in my life.
It’s allowed me to enjoy the present moment while knowing that I’m not forsaking my future. It’s allowed me to embrace anticipation and preparation while not overlooking the value of where I am today. It’s allowed me to “grow where I’m planted.”
It’s changed the way I live.
It’s changed the way I anticipate and the way I prepare.
And all I had to do was make it into a GAME.
That’s right—a game! Talk about feeding my competitive ego…
But seriously, making a GAME out of life just made things a little… well… easier. Not that everything in life should be easy… but nobody said anything about easier.
Making a GAME out of life, taught me how to be stationary but not static.
So what does this GAME of life look like?
Well, I’m glad you asked.
G: GIVE yourself a deadline.
Think about the last time you were at a bus stop or a train station. I’m sure walking was an option (albeit a long shot), but hey the bus or train would be faster and wouldn’t you know it, the stop is right here!
So you wait.
At some point, no matter how far you have to walk, everyone will hit a point at which they will choose to walk rather than wait.
Give yourself a deadline.
Now, I understand that not everyone is the kind of person who can just pull the rip cord, quit a job, buy a plane ticket, or whatever you think you need to do to get ready for the radical change you want to make.
But everyone is the kind of person who can imagine and work toward a deadline.
There is never going to be a “perfect time” or a “perfect day,” so just pick one. If you’re in a job you hate, give yourself a quitting date right after bonuses. If you want to go back to school, sign up for the next round of MCATs or GMATs. If you want to take a trip around the world, figure out the best day to be in Fiji, and start there.
Circle that date on the calendar, schedule a party with your best friends for the day after it, and do whatever else you need to keep yourself accountable.
Then take the following steps to ensure that when that day comes, you’ll be ready.
A: APPRECIATE where you are and ATTEND to where you want to go.
Lauren Hill sang it best in Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit:
If you wanna be somebody.
If you wanna go somewhere,
You better wake up and pay attention.
Just because you’re in a job you hate or a relationship that’s going south doesn’t mean that you’ve wasted your time or done something wrong. There is something to be learned from every experience we have.
Nothing is wasted.
Appreciate where you are now—what have you learned from your current state? Did you figure out something you loved? Did you find something you hated? Sometimes learning what you don’t like is just as important and learning what you do like.
Attend to where you want to be—what will you need to learn to move forward? Do you have a set of skills, a community of people, or a collection of resources that need to be acquired to get to the next step? Sometimes just taking stock of what you’ll need in life to reach your vision is enough to get you moving in the right direction.
Once you’ve got your D-Day date and you’ve done a little life-research, you’ll have to start putting things into action.
M: MIX up your routine.
Vilayat Inayat Khan once said, “The human spirit lives on creativity and dies in conformity and routine.”
The same goes for the Christmas Spirit.
If you are living in a comfortable routine, even one that you hate, nothing will ever change. You have to change it. I don’t want you to live in wishful thinking or wait for permission or perfect timing to actually do something.
This step is about action that allows for new, authentic, meaningful things to come into your life.
How can you engage your heartfelt intentions? How can you explore activities that align with your authentic self—with the person who appreciates their past while attending to their future? How can you create your own opportunities?
Take that night class. Buy that study guide. Call that old friend or teacher. Just drive a new route to work, for crying out loud!
Then allow all of those little mix-ups to add to your life in a meaningful way. Allow all the people and places and opportunities to fill in the blanks. If you allow it, life will unfold in such a way that people, places, or opportunities will give you the chance to grasp the changes you want to make.
Once you’ve done that, you have one last—and most important—step to do.
E: EXPECT the best or ELIMINATE EXPECTATIONS altogether.
Pretend you’re Neo in the Matrix, and choose wisely.
Either believe that life will unfold as it should or stop expecting anything at all—that’s it.
That way, when good things happen you’ll either have manifested them or you’ll be total surprised.
Both are good options.
Ok, that’s definitely oversimplified, but seriously, I have to ask—why are we so negative when it comes to the outcomes of our own lives?
We are so quick to reassure our friends that “everything will be fine” or “of course things will work out,” but the minute we have a dream of our own and it has a roadblock, we lose our own vision completely.
Know this—if you are not expecting the best from yourself, your friends, and your life, you are doing the world a disservice. It’s been said that “being realistic is the most commonly traveled road to mediocrity,” and your mediocre life will not serve the world the way it should be served. You were made to play big and to inspire that spirit in others.
Don’t expect anything less.
And if you choose to hold on to expectations, only hold on to your own. Eliminate the expectations of others. Embrace your own free will and actively choose friendships, relationships, jobs, opportunities, and lottery numbers based on your own dreams—based on your own expectations for yourself. Not someone else’s.
Let go of the approval of others—you don’t need it. All it will do is hold you back from giving your glorious gifts to the world—whatever they may be.
Welcome the struggle. Grip on to the hardship. Seize the opportunity to play the GAME.
The Big Picture: Life is a GAME
That’s all you have to do—make life a GAME—and it will never be the same.
You don’t’ have to quit your job or sign up for a trip around the world—although I would highly encourage both when the time is right. All you have to do is take simple steps to keep moving forward while remaining in place.
Can you live your life this way? Can you embrace the GAME of life? Can you be stationary but not static?
Live in the present while working for the future.
Charlie Brown said it best…
Christmas tiiiiiime is here…
We'll be draaaaaawing near…
Oh, that weeee…
Could always seeeeee…
Such spirit throoooough the year…
Oh, that weeee…
Could always seeeeee…
Such spirit throoooough the year…
Oh that we… could always see… Such spirit through the year.
Keep the Christmas Spirit alive all year long... not just Christmastime.
Now, I want to hear from you!
- Do you live for the future, for the present, or both?
- What will you do tomorrow to embrace the GAME of life?
Did this story resonate with you or make you think of a story of your own? Share your story or your reaction in the comments below.
I believe that stories unite us. These stories can be traced back to one person, conversation, or observation that provided a turning point in our lives. I’d love to hear if you believe this, too.
If you do believe this, then share it with your friends! Because sharing stories an instinctual, powerful way to touch the hearts of others and change the world around us.