Gary discusses a personal transformation with regards to the holiday season – switch from holidays to holy days. Rather than promoting a specific religous approach the value of a secular Buddhist practice for improving everyday living is presented. This has led to greater enjoyment of this time of year.
His story starts over 23 years ago when still suffering 2 years after a divorce and feeling stuck. The desire to get un-stuck merged with the mediation portion of the 11th step in a 12 Step program. The insight gained was this: addiction is associated with expectations. Gary came to call the holiday season, “The Disneyland of Addiction.” A time of high emotionality and expectations where trying to satisfy feelings, similar to a child in the “terrible twos,” takes precedence over principle-based behavior. It can lead to suffering. This is contrasted with healthy emotional responses in line with principle-based behavior.
Consequently, holidays are about expectations while for Gary holy days are about being responsible, living by one’s principles, and treating others in a compassionate, respectful manner. Said more simply, the goal of this work is to:
“Have my butt and my brain in the same place and time zone.”
It’s about being present, which is where secular Buddhism comes into play, i.e., developing daily habits that keep Gary present, aware, and “in” life moment by moment. This leads to loving-kindness for self and others. It puts the “holy” in holy days.
The switch to holy days allowed a breaking out from the trap of expectations. Life got simpler. Pain didn’t necessarily go away but suffering lessened. This led to an increase of acceptance in contrast to just being patient. Life is as it is. Accept and decide.
Acceptance has led to the development of options and better decision-making rather than being hung up on a given expectation.
A not-so-obvious option is being prepared to still take care of self even when plans fail. Take the energy from the disappointment and move it into something construction. And, if a plan does come to fruition move that energy as well into something greater than can be built.
It’s all about abundance and expanding the space in which the abundance can grow. Joy can result!
In contrast, when there is a hanging onto expectations a tightfistedness sets in that is very controlling and leads to misery.
Gary closes with the lifestyle he has now, i.e., having left the Catholic Church but enjoying his Italian-Catholic heritage, Christmas music, cooking,etc., all of which leaves room for others, their beliefs and practices.
The listener is encouraged to have a Merry __________ . (fill in the blank with what is important to you this time of year.)