Reprinted from the December 1994 issue of Unity Magazine®.
The story is told about Dorothy Parker, poet and theater critic, who occupied a small, dingy cubbyhole of an office in the Metropolitan Opera House building in New York City. At that time she had few friends and no visitors. As a result, she became lonely and depressed. When the sign writer came to paint her name on the office door, she persuaded him to write instead the word Gentlemen.
One Christmas, when my daughter was 6 years old, she received a gift that thrilled her so much she actually squealed when she opened it. What is remarkable about this is not that the gift was so fantastic, but that she received it so openly and joyfully.
How are you at receiving? If you don't necessarily squeal with delight, are you able to accept the gifts given to you and the love that goes with them? Or do you have difficulty receiving? Perhaps you are concerned that the gift costs too much or somehow you don't deserve it. Do you say to yourself, "Oh dear, they gave me more than I gave them,'" or maybe even, "I gave them more than they gave me"?
When I went to school, I had a teacher who told us about a Christmas party she went to where nobody really knew each other. She never told how this was organized or how the people found each other. That wasn’t important. What she told us left such a desire in me that I could never forget her story. She said that everyone was supposed to bring a gift but it was forbidden to bring anything materialistic. I was really young at the time and had, unfortunately, grown up in a very materialistic environment, so my first thought was, What? What could you bring then?
It seems that we are continually being deceived about the answer to the question, What is the good life? Those who have things to sell are vying for our attention with a staccato beat that is seemingly endless. Usually the message is, “If you accept my product, you will find the good life.”
But most of us can remember how we dearly longed for a doll or a bicycle and earnestly believed that if we acquired that wonderful “thing,” we would be content and eternally grateful. What a blow to our philosophy when the luster disappeared soon after the acquisition! Then we usually said, “If only I could have this new thing—then I would be happy.”
This article originally appeared in the May/June 2009 issue of Unity Magazine®.
Reducing stress is important, we’ve all heard it. Stress not only impacts your happiness, but your health. The American Academy of Family Physicians reports that two-thirds of all doctor visits are due to stress-related ailments. It’s also believed that 80 to 90 percent of all diseases are stress-related. And if you’re female, stress may be even more damaging to your health. Study after study has found that women suffer from both stress and depression more often than men.