Humility and the Holidays

Humility and the Holidays


Happy holidays, friends! I'm going to keep this post relatively short because let's face it - who has the time right now? You might be reading this in the closet while avoiding your crazy Aunt Margaret at that family holiday party. Or maybe you're in the bathroom and it's that socially awkward guy from accounting that you are trying to escape while at your work holiday party. Either way, I get it.

The holidays can be rough - and oh so lovely too. This week I spent a very intense couple of days helping 250 elementary students make gifts for people at a local adult care center for the holidays. And I gotta say, there were so many heart warming moments - as well as some sweaty will-you-just-follow-my-freakin-instructions moments. You know. Sometimes you can't have one without the other. Both - the beautiful and brutal. The holidays are brutiful*. (*Term borrowed from the amazing Glennon Doyle.)

Just look at this sweet note of kindness made during the service projects this week:

Sometimes in the midst of the brutiful holiday season I find it can be hard to stay grounded in humility. It's so easy to get sucked into the need to consume, prove yourself, do all the things, and attend all the parties, and be everything to everyone.

But that's totally counter to our biology in this season. Don't believe me? Just look at nature.

What is the natural world doing in this season? Resting, reflecting, and restoring. Getting quiet. Going inward. Conserving energy. So in an effort to realign myself with the natural rhythms of the world, I'm writing this post to remind us how to take our cues from nature and ground ourselves in humility this holiday season.

1. Stop talking. One way to practice humility is to spend more time listening than you do talking. The natural world gets much quieter in the winter months. If you find yourself in lots of social situations where it might be kind of rude not to talk, ask a few questions and then listen. Listen with an open heart and see what people are saying beyond their words - listen to their bodies and energy too. Practice listening when you are outside too for a really grounding experience. (I recommend doing this as much as possible...)

2. Volunteer. Many people make volunteering a holiday tradition. Volunteering can really enhance the humility you experience in your life. Whether you’re working a soup kitchen in your community or doing a service project with kids, volunteering can help you get in touch with your sense of gratitude and help people who really need you. It can be incredibly humbling to spend time with people who are grateful for your help, and it can make you be more gracious. We feel a natural tendency to serve others. Give into it - just for the sake of helping those who need it. Nothing more.

3. Spend more time with children. Children have a natural sense of wonder and almost never cease to be in awe of the universe. If you want to practice humility more often, then you should make a habit of spending more time with children. They’ll help you see the world through new, youthful eyes, and you’ll be able to rediscover some of the magic you may feel that you lost in the daily grind. Making a habit of spending more time with kids, whether you spend more time with your own, volunteer with children, or help a friend out by babysitting, can help you practice humility regularly.

4. Spend time with elders. We used to live in societies that valued their elders, but sadly this level of respect and reverence has dissipated in our culture. This is another area where we could take our cues from the natural world. Great grandmother trees offer wisdom, support, and nutrients to other younger trees in the forest. Matriarch elephants are the leaders of the herds. Young wolves will even open a carcass and then step aside for the elders with compromised teeth to eat first. Our elders have lived more life than us. Humility is treating them with the reverence and respect they deserve. Slow down, and spend time with them. Listen to their wisdom.

5. Be teachable. People who practice humility are the first to admit that they don’t know everything. Whether you’re getting tips from a friend, your dog, or Mother Nature, it’s important to be open to new possibilities and new knowledge. Let others see your gratitude for the wisdom they have to share. It’s humbling to own the fact that you are a perpetual student of life. (Tip: Mother Nature and kids can be the best teachers.)

6. Go outside. As mentioned before, nothing can ground you faster than being in the natural world. Nature reminds us that there are powers bigger than ourselves and our problems out there, and that we can live in awe of the world instead of obsessing over all of our little problems or thwarted ambitions. I believe everything you really need to know can be learned from the world around us. Set your ego aside and spend time - just being - in nature.

I hope this is helpful as we dive into the heart of holiday hooplas. Remember to breathe. Go outside and maybe do a little creating. All of these things can bring us back to our most authentic humble nature.

Wishing you and yours a meaningful, peaceful holiday season!

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