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This time of year brings about an abundance of gift giving, although giving gifts is something we do year round. The thoughts and ideas in this article are applicable in all gifting circumstances, no matter how unique of common the occasion.

Photo Credit: Elezabeth Jose https://fineartamerica.com/featured/christmas-in-the-snow-elizabeth-jose.html

This holiday season has been unique in that I find myself in a bit of a gift giving conundrum. It is now less than a week before Christmas and I haven’t purchased a single gift. Part of it is because my focus has been on shifting into my new mobile way of life rather than holiday gifts and part of it is because I’d rather give my loved ones experiences than material gifts. Interestingly my intuition about gifting meshes together perfectly with the science around value, gifts, and happiness. Hopefully you’ll find this as interesting as I do.

On Material “Stuff”

In the last week I have built friendships with many “everyday people” that happen to live and travel full time in their trailers. If you met them at Starbucks, you’d never guess their lifestyle was so different than most people. They have jobs, they have families, they have pets, they wear normal clothes… they seem average. Although, how they live is not typical at all.

What impressed me most was the simplicity and quality of their “stuff.” One couple, Chad and Rebekah, are in their 30s and have been living in their 25 foot Airstream with their dog “Dijon” for two and a half years. Their trailer was spotless and minimalist- it looked like a showroom model: beautiful, no clutter, and only the essentials. They invited me to ride to dinner with them and I sat comfortably in the back seat of their Toyota Tundra, which was clean and free of clutter. In fact, most people who have houses and garages have more in their backseat than Chad and Rebekah. They are extremely happy, travel freely, and love life… All the while owning very few material things. After meeting so many people that live for experiences while owning very little, I am realizing more and more that gifts of experience are far better than material things.

Gift Giving

Back to gifts—Gifts can be material things, experiences, a kind word or even a gentle hug at just the right time. Your complete presence and a listening ear are also gifts. BUT…. Most people would think that you were quite strange (and cheap) if you wrapped yourself in a bow and presented your “presence” to a loved one as their gift! So, let’s give gifts!! Gift giving research shows the benefits of giving experiences is monumental compared to giving material items.

Why experiences? When considering why we give gifts, there are many reasons. One of the fundamental reasons is to connect and foster relationships. Science Daily suggests: “People often struggle with the challenge of choosing what to give someone. If you want to give them something that will make them feel closer to you, give an experience.”  Another idea: Make it an experience that involves you and your loved one! Depending on your relationship and logistics, sharing the experience could up the gift giving ante even more for both the giver and the receiver.

Deciding What to Give

If you’d like to give an experience, but now wonder what to give, here are some ideas: What does your loved one enjoy doing, but rarely treats themselves to? What are his/her hobbies? What is something they have always wanted to do? What is a new or exciting experience you can share with them?

Examples Ideas:

  • A gift certificate to a movie, play, or concert and a gift certificate to their favorite restaurant: Your loved one can treat themselves and their special someone to a night on the town.
  • Gift them a skydiving experience, kayak or canoe rental, a gym membership, a museum pass, or tour of an art gallery.
  • Maybe they love to read: Consider eBook certificates, a year’s subscription to their favorite magazine, or internet membership site.
  • For families: tickets to a theme park, adventure course, or an annual state or national park pass.
  • For kids: A pizza party at an entertainment facility. A day at the beach or the park for them and 3-5 of their friends (you can provide their favorite picnic lunch too).

The possibilities are limitless! What ideas do you have? Please post them in the comments below.

Wrapping it All Up

We’ve all heard the old adage “it’s better to give than to receive.” Now we may have to add: “It’s better to give and receive experiences than anything else at all.” In the big scheme of things we all want to experience joy and happiness: We want to be happy and we want our loved ones to be happy. What constitutes happiness is different for everyone.

One thing is for sure: happiness doesn’t come from things. I love the saying “The most important things in life aren’t things.” Fostering and deepening relationships is one of the most important things in life. We each express love in our own unique way. Gifts are just one of the many expressions of love. This holiday season (and for the rest of your days): Give love. When choosing your gifts, be creative. Love what you give and give what they love… no matter what that might be.

Whether you’re celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Solstice, Festivus, or anything else — I hope you have a very happy holiday filled with connections, love, and joy.

 

… until the next revolution

 

A Gift of an Offer

On the subject of experiences, there are two life changing group coaching programs on offer to you. In the spirit of the holidays, we are offering a semi private group coaching session to the next five people that register for either of the programs. So if you are considering joining, now is a great time.

Grow Your Business — Create Your Future Begins April 3rd

Do you want to transform your passion into profit? Whether you are a new entrepreneur, launching your business or a seasoned business owner looking to take your business to the next level, this program is for you. With a combination of group and one-on- one coaching, small group discussions and reflective exercises this program covers all the bases. Discover the ease by which you can point yourself in the “right” direction for success in business and life all the while receiving support and guidance along the way. Register Here

 

Creative Living: A Deep Look into the Design of Life Begins April 17th

In this interactive group program, we will dive into identifying what you really want and pointing yourself in that direction with intention, clarity and heart. We will explore simple truths that can help guide you effortlessly toward more success: in your life, health, career, retirement – anything & everything. You’ll unravel the maze of your thinking and learn to trust your own innate wisdom in every part of your life. If you want to do what you love and love what you do, this program is for you! Register Here

On a whim, Jim and I went on an adventure.  It was unplanned, spur of the moment, and  life changing. Numerous events culminated perfectly to allow this adventure to be a possibility–some were awesome surprises and some initially appeared to be huge letdowns. We lived the definition of “coddiwomple” in our camper for 26 days.  Below is a collection of a few of the experiences, insights and life-changing thoughts that showed up along the journey. For each idea, there is an explanation, an invitation to apply the thought, and inquiries to bring about your own awareness. Enjoy!

Grab the chance!  Go!

Do it! Whatever “it” is, give it a shot.  This amazing adventure was an “it” for me. Sure, there were countless thoughts centered around why we shouldn’t go or why it would be better if we waited. The timing isn’t perfect. We’ve got other things we need to do. It’s going to cost too much. We don’t have a plan, etc. We went, the experience was more amazing than we could have imagined, and it all worked out better than we could have planned. In life, career, business, retirement, or anything else: Grab the chance and go.

Thought: Hopes and dreams are much easier to achieve than most think; it’s all the thinking that gets in the way. Grab the chance and go!

Experience: If you wait, chances are it may not get any easier, something else will get in the way, and you will wonder why you waited. Whatever “it” is, give it a shot. What is an “it” for you? What if you went for “it” by pointing yourself in a direction, taking the first step, and figuring it out from there?

Take in the beauty ALL around!

What would happen if you purposefully took the time to appreciate the beauty all around you? During the big adventure, I settled down, opened my awareness, and was able to take in splendor that I normally would have missed. For example: In the stillness of a canyon, just before sunset, I heard birds fly. It was amazing. Flocks of birds one after the other flew by; I heard the air rhythmically rush around their wings and their tiny bodies. It was so beautiful and piercing;  I wanted to stay and listen for hours in this “special spot,” where flight was music to my ears.  Ever since that experience, I notice that I can hear birds fly everywhere. I didn’t noticed it before but, now I am aware.

Thought: You can experience beauty and brilliance everywhere.

Experience: No matter where you may be, there is magnificence everywhere, all the time. The more you look for it, the more there will be. What are you noticing?

Be present, feel connected, and come alive.

Close up of the rock’s surface

One of my most profound moments came on a guided hike in Seminole Canyon State Park, in South Texas. We hiked up the canyon from the riverbed, into a huge cave in the canyon wall; it had been carved away by the rushing river over thousands of years. This cave had been the home to a tribe of Native Americans. There was ancient wall art, carvings, and artifacts (in addition to stunning views of the river below).

Inside the cave was a massive shiny rock that literally shook me. The rock was waist/chest high and so wide I could only reach halfway across it. The top surface was smooth like glass and had a slick, oily feel. It was smooth and oily because it had been doused with animal fat for hundreds of years. It was used as a cutting board and place of ceremony by Native Americans thousands of years ago. Since then, hikers have continued to touch the silky rock and the oils from our hands keeps it shiny.

I placed my hands on that rock and thought about all the people that stood right where I was. Standing and touching that rock, right where I was touching it; going back thousands of years, before there was electricity, buildings, or recorded history! While feeling the silky solidness of that rock and imagining all the people that had done the same, something inside lit up. It was energy of unity. I felt extraordinarily connected with all the people that were there before me. The feeling was amazing and something I will never forget.

Thought: Being present and connected is a gift you can give yourself anytime.

Seminole Canyon

In Seminole Canyon, the cave where Native Americans lived is just above my left shoulder

Experience: I am realizing more and more, no rock is needed to feel that alive and united… I just smiled typing that 🙂 How might you feel more connected?

No master plan- No problem!Adventure- Hiking to the Rio Grand

Just a month prior to our amazing expedition, the thought of taking the trip had not even surfaced yet. We decided to go the week before we left. When we pulled into a location to set up camp, we never knew where we would go next. Overall, we knew the general direction we wanted to head, but kept our options open. We usually planned our next location during down time of the day before.

Thought: Keeping things relaxed and flexible opens up opportunities.

Experience: Apply this idea to the adventure of life. How about pointing yourself in a direction and going with the flow? What if you grab the chance, make a move, have some fun and then say “What is next?” In what areas of your life might you benefit from applying a similar idea?

Listen to your heart and choose to lead.

We went for a hike at McKinny Falls State Park but couldn’t find the trail. We searched up and down the river before I realized the trail continued ACROSS the river. How the heck do we get over there? The river was wide and deep.  40-50 people were enjoying their day on our side of the river and not a soul could be seen on the other side. We checked the map- no roads drive to the other side and no walking bridge either. Heavy rainfall had engorged the river and covered the trail crossing. So, I decided we should ford the rushing water and regain our hike on the other side! The best place to do it was just upstream of the waterfall which was also where one slip would send us over the 20 foot drop. “Let’s do it!” I said. The water was freezing! We went for it and made it. Crossing the river was fun and allowed us to enjoy an entire network of trails on the other side. After we made it across, many others followed.

Thought: Sometimes hanging with the status quo might have you missing out on the best part of your hike. Take the chance and enjoy the experience!

Experience: When you choose the path less traveled, the possibilities are endless and others may be inspired to do the same! Where do you do this currently? How might you expand that?

You need much less than you think.

Camping on a deserted beach on Padre Island

Camping on a deserted beach on Padre Island

Most North Americans live in a perpetual state of too much stuff. I thought I packed very minimally, but I only wore about a third of the clothes I brought. We didn’t touch many of the tools, toys, and other extras either. Sure, there were times when we wish we would have brought a certain item, but we made do just fine without it.

Thought: Simplicity brings ease and breeds creativity.

Experience: Imagine the difference in your home, office, camper, etc., if you had all you needed and nothing more. Think of a simple way to start. What comes to mind?

 

Consider taking one (or more) of these ideas and putting it into practice this week. Notice your thoughts, how you feel, and any changes that transpire.

  • Grab the chance and go!
  • Take in the beauty ALL around!
  • Be present, feel connected, and come alive.
  • No master plan- No problem!
  • Listen to your heart and choose to lead!
  • You need much less than you think.

What are your thoughts and experiences? What was your last adventure and what made it special? Share in the comments below!

 

Until the next revolution….

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