The last Thursday of November is Thanksgiving Day in the US. It is not part of Philippine holiday celebrations, but we have celebrated it here for the last 18 years. So I cannot pass this opportunity to express our deepest gratitude to God for the blessings we received this year. We would also like to extend our deep gratitude to our benefactors and friends worldwide for helping us transform our work into reality, and rekindling hope for the poorest of the poor communities that we serve. You are making a BIG difference in the lives of so many families, especially children: you provide families with nutritious meals, access to water wells and pumps, educational assistance, and treatment for young mothers afflicted with tuberculosis and reproductive issues.
Globally, around 20,000 children a day die of starvation. This holiday dedicated to giving thanks for all our blessings reminds us to hold them in our hearts as we strive to share our abundance with them. Together, we can continue to change the tide and heal the world, one act of love, service, and prayer at a time. May God continue to bless your kind and generous hearts!
Thanksgiving also kicks the holiday season into high gear. As the holidays arrive, so does the stress: overeating and over-indulgence in sugar, salt, fats, alcohol, nicotine and caffeine, doubled or tripled home, work and social activities, running up bills for gifts and parties, travelling, 24/7 city traffic, etc. I find it so ironic that Christmas, supposedly dedicated to peace and joy, has become the most stressful event of the year! Ideally, it is a time of reflection, appreciation and celebration. This is the perfect time to put things in perspective.
With some planning, you can sidestep the worst by-products of the holidays and enjoy the season at its healthiest. Start by returning to the purpose of Christmas: celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, our Savior, center of our lives, and Prince of Peace!
Here are my seven strategies to experience Green, Healthy, and Happy Holidays . . .
- Be Positive and Let Go of Expectations:Whatever we focus on expands and gains momentum, so let us choose to let go of what bothers us and practice gratitude for all our blessings. According to The Neuroscience of Why Gratitude Makes Us Healthier, this is one of the best medicines! Our joy increases when we decrease what we require of ourselves. We do our best with our abilities, capacity of time, money and energy, and let go of the rest.
- Holiday Diet and Lifestyle: Indulging in all the holiday foods and drinks that may give momentary pleasure leaves us feeling bloated and sluggish. Then, we promise ourselves to go into food rehab and detox right after the holidays. What if you could enjoy the holidays, have amazing food, and not be smothered in mounds of butter, sweets and rich, heavy foods? Stay tuned for our Dec 8 post on tips for staying healthy during the holidays.
- Give a Gift of Good Health: Most of us may try to avoid thinking about good health or wellness. For most that is not a gift, until one day we realize that being in good health is the best gift that we can have. Give your yourself and your loved ones the gift of good health! Try giving raw, organic cacao instead of cake, or a gym outfit to encourage exercise.
- Transform Worry Into Wonder: When you experience worry, there is typically some positive emotion trying to come through. Below the surface lies deep care and concern for your loved ones. Pray a little prayer for all those around you and show them your love- the most priceless gift!
- Keep the Environment Green: Be aware of the aspects of the holiday season that are not so eco-friendly: wrapping paper, decorations and excess travel can all mean more waste and less sustainability.
- Go to Church and Forgive Always: Along with being more forgiving and understanding toward yourself, you have a much greater chance of having a peaceful Christmas season if you are also empathetic toward others. Let us make it a point to focus on charity, self-control and kindness within our families, friends and the community. The holidays normally make us yearn for spiritual joy. Renew your relationship with God, and take time to pray, discern and meditate. Hope and peace are not items that can be tied with a bow and placed under your tree, they are spiritual and emotional experiences that need space to grow in your heart.
Help the Poor: Spending time serving those in more difficult situations is a great way to share the joy of the season. It is truly better to give than to receive, especially when it is done without expectation of anything in return.