PHOTO | JONAS HAFNER | ♡ HIS WORK
Getting the best gifts this Christmas requires a slight shift in focus. True giving and receiving happens when we give because we want to, not because we are expected to, and we are most grateful to receive when we presume nothing, but get something. That is when we experience real gratitude and feel like we are getting the best gifts possible.
It’s no secret that Christmastime cranks up materialism to the max. Often the consumerist mindset attached to gift giving suffocates the joy of giving and receiving. People suffer all sorts of disappointments during the holidays because their expectations go unmet.
But Christmas is still a day away, and we can change all of that to ensure that you receive the best gifts— no disappointments attached.
Disappointment strongly links with expectation, when our expectations go unmet we feel disappointed. The good thing is that we can bypass that drama if we stop building towers of expectation in our heads. Expectations are often based on nothing solid enough to justify our demand of them. Does life owe you anything? When facing disappointment, it helps to go back and analyze where the expectations came from in the first place.
A gift is not an obligation and therefore to demand or expect any gift is oxymoronic. It’s different when a gift is promised because the promise itself is the gift, making the actual thing an obligation.
True giving and receiving can only happen when we presume nothing and get something. Only then do we feel the joy and gratitude of receiving. That’s how every gift should feel.
The other day, I was walking down a sidewalk in downtown St. Petersburg. A man carrying a bouquet of roses happened to be walking on the same sidewalk, heading into the direction I was coming from. I sort of smiled at the sight of someone going on a date, then as we crossed, he stopped, pulled out a single red rose from the bouquet and handed it to me— I hesitated, he insisted, reassuring me that he wanted nothing in return. He said it was just because of my beautiful smile or something along that note.
Later, the flower went into a vase and every time I caught glimpse of it, I felt an overpowering feeling of gratitude which made me crave to give to others. I’ve had plenty of flowers in my lifetime, more bountiful than that single rose, but they were given under different circumstances. This was somehow different because I expected nothing from the man and he expected nothing in return, there was no sense of obligation, and that left nothing, but gratitude.
When gifts are given by friends we sort of expect their generosity because of our friendship, unfortunately, that dulls the feeling of gratitude. But to receive a gift, from someone who owes nothing, asks for nothing, and knows he will receive nothing in return, makes gratitude explode like a bomb in our chests.
It was a random lesson, but timely for Christmas. A mind cleared of expectations opens us to experience the joy of giving, and the fulfillment that comes with living in the moment instead of looking at Christmas from a steep tower of expectations.
I urge you to try this mindset. When you receive a gift, even if it’s just a card or a kiss, the feeling of gratitude will explode like a bomb. A simple gift can be the best gift of your life because you are free of expectations and the simplest kind gesture will fill you with gratitude.