What is important? What do I want? How much is enough?
As celebrate the winter holidays, it can be a paradoxical time. On one hand, it’s a time for realigning and reconnecting with our priorities. We tend to our spiritual roots. We make time for what (or whom) we value. We spend time with those we love. We welcome them into our homes. We have meals together. We (try to) overlook imperfections and daily irritations in the spirit of love, gratitude, generosity and togetherness. We also focus on the needs of those who are less fortunate. We donate. We volunteer. Or perhaps we are in a time of need and benefit from the kindness of others. With these, there is a warmth, an alignment with our values, and a connection with our humanity.
Paradoxically, the other side of the holidays is often about getting more. More gifts, more deals, more things. More can feel insatiable, without satisfaction. There’s an excitement, but also a tinge of rabid hunger. MORE! It can feel like the cats in the video below. (I love this video, by the way.)
When I feel this hunger in myself, it provokes questioning. I find it helpful to take perspective on what I really need/want. The two queries below can help point the way.
1. What do I really need?
Our fundamental needs, the things we will fight for if threatened, are a sense of security and sense of identity. Other fundamental needs include feelings of belongingness and love, self-esteem, personal fulfillment, cultural security, freedom, and the ability to actively participate in civil society.
When I reflect of my life and what has made me feel most fulfilled, meaningful, and joyful, I can see these needs embedded in my experiences. I can also compare them to my Amazon Holiday Wish List. What items will fulfill and strengthen me? What items will I not just enjoy, but find sustaining? Or what might add clutter and take away from investing in a more fulfilling experience?
One exercise I do with almost every coaching client is to explore their unique peak moments and experiences. These can be common or uncommon times in your life when you felt like you were thriving, like you were the most yourself, where you felt like you were in flow, enjoyment, engagement, connection or whatever positive emotions you most value. What were you doing? What was great about it? And how can you add more of it into your life? These defining experiences can help us plan and sort how we invest our resources.
2. Do I have enough?
Knowing where we stand economically within the collective can give us perspective on what we feel we need. Pew gives us handy calculators to figure this out, both globally and in the US.
As this study defines it, people who are middle income, globally speaking, live on $10.01-20 a day, which translates to an annual income of $14,600 to $29,200 for a family of four. The other four income groups are defined as follows: The poor live on $2 or less daily, low income on $2.01-10, upper-middle income on $20.01-50, and high income on more than $50. Here is the Global Calculator. You can also find the US Calculator here.
With this knowledge we can begin to re-calibrate our hunger. We might feel gratitude: perhaps we have enough. It is also possible that we need to access more resources, or perhaps we could be advocating for resources on behalf of others.
No matter where you are, I wish you a holiday season filled with that which fulfills and sustains you.