Holiday season is a time to meet with friends, old and new, to reflect, and to refocus. In fact, meeting with friends and family allows us to learn what is new, and to share where we are in our own paths. Of course, the older we get, hopefully the more wisdom we add into the mix, and the more we learn from these opportunities.
In these holiday discussions with our friends and family, we will hear the good, and the bad. We learn about friends who are succeeding and those who are struggling, or on a downward path. For any feeling person these stories that sadden us should inspire 2 actions we might consider. One is framed around how we might help the struggling person, something we could do to change their situation or help them during a bad turn. Sociologists call these external actions "instrumental reciprocity."
The other reaction is more internal, and that is when we learn from the conversation and think to apply actions we might do for ourselves to perhaps avoid the bad experiences that occur with people we know. That is, when we learn that someone is sick, it might spur us to think about ways we can make ourselves healthier. Or is someone is depressed, or at a low point, we could think about ways to keep our own spirits stronger.
As I get older, and apply these internal actions, it causes me to think about ways I can strengthen myself, in mind, body, and spirit. The great philosophers often talk about balance, and how people need to tend to all the important elements of life. If we care to heed this advice of balance, then we need to think about how we can keep our bodies stronger (healthier) through good exercise and diet. And to strengthen our minds, by reading broadly and reflecting often on all sides of an issue. Last, to keep our spirits bright by taking time to reflect, meditate, or pray.
Most of us have incredible blessings in our lives. When we reflect with our friends and hear the more challenging stories, we can first ask what we can do to help, and then internally use these situations to keep ourselves balanced and strong....on all fronts. We can use our holiday reflections to help others, and to improve our own lot.