Holiday season can be a stressful time for lots of us. We might be flooded with memories, or struggling financially, or missing those who mean or meant a lot to us, or be far away from family. His Holiness the Dalai Lama says it is our attitude to our external circumstances that shapes how we handle our happy or unhappy situations.
If we can develop the right mental attitude, external things won't affect our own inner peace. He goes on to state that from his experience, the most important factor for mental peace is human compassion, friendship, a sense of caring, of developing a genuine sense of concern for others. He further states that one aspect of compassion has a sense of responsibility and that once that sense of feeling and motivation develops in one's heart, it will automatically strenghten one's self confidence.
From personal experience, when I have been caught in deep sadness for myself, I have found that if I stop and extend that out to looking at how all sentient beings are or have been experiencing sadness, unhappiness, pain, suffering, it immediately relieves my own and that "genuine sense of concern starts to develop" and my state of mind is transformed.
Give a day or few hours of your time. This time of the year offers a multitude of ways to volunteer and be of service especially to those less fortunate than ourselves. There are many ideas such as spearheading a food collection drive, or toy drive, or volunteering as a Big Brother or Big Sister to those children in need, or helping out at a soup kitchen, homeless shelter, hospital, or volunteering at an animal shelter to give others a break or you could go through your belongings and donate those things you no longer need, you could make specific monetary donations to charities of your choice, you could shop for a neighbor or someone you know who has a difficult time getting out, you could mow your neighbors lawn, you could be sure to have a few extra dollars to give to those asking for help, you could offer prayers, you could offer smiles.
What about a phone call to someone who could really need to hear some friendly words?
As we get out of our own "box" and look for ways to be helpful, we will find true inner joy and peace. Look at how every living being wants happiness and doesn't want the suffering or unhappiness. We are all alike in this aspiration. How can we make a difference for another? Be creative...what would you like to do to make someone else's life a little better? Do you have a few hours to spare?
Love, peace, joy...may all beings benefit...