This week, I had the privilege of helping out for a little while at Cradles to Crayons with my team and co-workers (Chris Penn wrote about this experience in gut wrenching detail). The feeling of rage, sadness, and disheartenment during the experience left me feeling so dissatisfied with how material everything can become around the holidays. There was a small boy on my list who really needed winter boots, only they didn't have them in his size. Another boy will go without warm winter clothes, because they didn't have any for his size either. While the staff did their best to keep things positive and upbeat, I found it difficult at best not to break down into tears. It makes one think and realize how much the world needs from each of us.
So what, pray tell, did I hope to gain by asking for everyone's holiday wishes on Facebook? Human kindness, real and quiet wishes that we secretly yearn for that have nothing at all to do with phones or tablets or games. One secret little wish that would delight us through the following year. Everyone has one, surely. Maybe more than one. A change to your life, a special person to enter your life, one step forward to the path you want to follow in your career, or a moment of resolution with someone who made things difficult in your past.
I've learned something about happiness in my past few months of working at SHIFT. What you do every day, how you approach each one, and how open you are to having experiences that you think will make you unhappy determines how happy you are on a regular basis.
You can search for happiness. You can hope and wish that it finds you, but the majority of the time it won't come easily. You have to work for those wishes (in my case, I'll have to be brave enough to ask someone else a question). Then, you'll have to open yourself up to everything it entails good and bad. If you can do that, you'll find a lot more happiness in 2014.
So, what do you really wish for this holiday season?