Friday, November 25, 2011

New Christmas tradition - the South African way!

I've received this email during this week and thought that it should be shared, seeing that we're only one month away from Christmas!  Bottom line is that with some out-of-the-box-thinking we can save ourselves a lot of overspending while we're simultaneously doing good to our fellow South Africans. (Thanks for the heads-up Tan) :-)

"As the holidays approach, the giant Asian factories are kicking into high gear to provide South Africans with monstrous piles of cheaply produced goods - merchandise that has been produced at the expense of South African labor. This year will be different. This year South Africans will give the gift of genuine concern for other South Africans. There is no longer an excuse that, at gift giving time, nothing can be found that is produced by South African hands. Yes there is!

Who says a gift needs to fit in a shirt box, wrapped in Chinese produced wrapping paper? Everyone gets their hair cut. How about gift certificates from your local South African hair salon or barber? Gym membership? It's appropriate for all ages who are thinking about some health improvement.

Who wouldn't appreciate getting their car cleaned? Small, South African owned carwashes would love to sell you a gift certificate or a book of gift certificates.

Are you one of those extravagant givers who think nothing of buying a Chinese made flat-screen? Perhaps that grateful gift receiver would like his driveway sealed, or lawn mowed for the summer, or games at the local golf course.

There are bazillion owner-run restaurants -- all offering gift certificates. And, if your intended isn't the fancy eatery sort, what about a half dozen breakfasts at the local breakfast joint. Remember, folks this isn't about big national chains - this is about supporting your home town South Africans with their financial lives on the line to keep their doors open.

How many people couldn't use an oil change for their car, truck or motorcycle, done at a shop run by the South African working guy?

Thinking about a heartfelt gift for mom? Mom would love the services of a local cleaning lady for a day.

My computer could use a tune-up, and I know I can find some young guy who is struggling to get his repair business up and running.

OK, you were looking for something more personal. Local crafts people spin their own wool and knit them into scarves. They make jewelry, and pottery and beautiful wooden boxes, local owned shops.

Plan your holiday outings at local, owner operated restaurants and leave your waiter/waitress a nice tip. And, how about going out to see a play or ballet at your hometown theatre?

Honestly, people, do we really need to buy another ten thousand Chinese lights for the house? If you have those kinds of bucks to burn, leave the mailman, trash guy or babysitter a nice BIG tip.

You see, Christmas is no longer about draining South African pockets so that China can build another glittering city. Christmas is now about caring about us, encouraging South African small businesses to keep plugging away to follow their dreams. And, when we care about other South Africans, we care about our communities, and the benefits come back to us in ways we couldn't imagine.

This is the new South African Christmas tradition.

Forward this to everyone on your mailing list -- post it to discussion groups - send it to the editor of your local paper and radio station. This is a revolution of caring about each other, and isn't that what Christmas is about"?

P.S.  The 16 Day of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children campaign starts today.  It is our responsibility to 'not look away, but to act against abuse'.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The 'how' of happiness

I came across this interesting article:  "How Blinded Is Your Thinking at This Very Moment? Your strongest convictions are powerfully swayed by the here-and-now" (Sonja Lyubomirsky in How of Happiness, Psychology Now Magazine).  

I think that this is a notion that we can shake our heads to in agreement - it makes sense and we know that it's true in most instances - our perception of how full or empty our glass is can be linked directly to our present state of mind of whether we are experiencing a warm and sunny or a windy, cloudy day on planet ME.

This might be the reason why wise people would often say that you should 'sleep on it' before you make an important decision. I am a big supporter of impulsivity, to act in the moment and to not always think about the consequences and the domino effect that one decision might have.  I believe there is a definite place for this as well, and that it's actually important to sometimes just act and do, without thinking twice.  This, however, might be the safer route to follow when minor decisions are at stake - it will make no difference in the bigger picture if I do decide to eat that second ice-cream, take the day off or to go dancing in the rain. When we have to decide if we're taking up a new job, if we should relocate or whether we should start a family - decisions that will have a significant impact on our lives - it probably is best to 'sleep on it'.

The bottom line is that the thing or things that are bothering us now will most probably not be causing any distress tomorrow - chances are good that we won't even remember that we were unhappy and even if we do, what the cause(s) of our unhappiness were.  A reminder, once again, that the how of happiness is locked up in today, now, this moment.  Such a simple truth but much harder to really embrace and implement - for me - that is.

What would you say about the how of happiness? 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Create your own 'wake up and smell the coffee moment'

This is a difficult time of year for most. We're all running around frantically to be able to tick of the tasks on our never-ending to do lists. I've just realised yesterday that we should create a 'wake up and smell the coffee moment' for ourselves - at least once a day!

It does happen every now and then that other people create such a moment for you.  If you're in that fortunate position - embrace and enjoy the moment!  I was humbled by people's kindness and care yesterday, very unexpectedly, and it just made me realise again that we can easily loose the ability to see kindness and care when it is shared.  The scarier part is that if we're unable to see and experience it it becomes even more difficult to be kind and caring towards others.  And that should never happen!

So if no one else create a gratitude moment for you, create it yourself! The rich and creamy aroma might turn into an unpleasant odour if we don't wake up and smell the coffee when it's first presented.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Thursday truth: Be yourself!

Dr Seuss couldn't have said it better:  “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind.”

Have a terrific Thursday!