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Quality of Life: Let your inner child out this holiday season

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Quality of LifeWhen I was eight years old, my aunt and uncle invited our family to their house to watch “The Wizard of Oz.” They had a color TV, and we didn’t. I still remember how excited I was on the evening that we went to their home. My aunt cooked a wonderful dinner and then we all crowded around their television to watch the show. When Dorothy landed in Oz, and the film changed from black and white to color, I was beside myself. It was so beautiful. Glinda, the good witch, wore the loveliest dress I had ever seen in my life and it even sparkled! And while the Wicked Witch of the West scared me nearly to death, I thought her green face was pretty cool. The whole experience of seeing that movie at their house that evening was one I have never forgotten.

I often think about how great it would be to continue to experience life with that kind of wonder and enthusiasm. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to live every moment in color, instead of black and white?

I suppose I’m pondering this because we are approaching the holiday season and for the last several years, that kind of true joy, that deep-down, authentic, “touches you at the gut level” joy, has been missing from my holiday celebrations. In part, it is because grown-up obligations have supplanted the carefree life of youth, but I think it also has to do with a tendency to view life through gray-colored glasses.

So, here are some ideas for bringing joy back into your life during the holiday season.

Give a gift to yourself: What is it that you need most? Time? A break? A party? Make a commitment to do something nice for you and you alone. If this is hard for you, pretend you are doing it for someone else. Even if it just means being your own best friend and accepting yourself with less criticism and fewer unrealistic expectations. If you can bring tidings of comfort and joy to yourself, then you are well on your way to spreading joy to others.

Give a gift from the heart, not the wallet: You don’t have to purchase a gift for everyone — you can make something, or give of your time. Put together a packet of favorite family recipes, or give a homemade gift certificate for an invitation to your home to watch the big game, complete with snacks, dinner, beer, whatever. Most people appreciate a gift of spending time, rather than money. When you give away something of yourself, the space that is left will be filled with joy.

Allow yourself to feel joyful: Here’s a wild concept — give yourself permission to feel joy — to act like a kid — to try seeing the world with new eyes. The first step toward bringing joy into your life is actively hoping that you will feel it. Spend some time imagining what joy would feel like. Open yourself up to the idea of being happy. Start telling your brain about joy and it will begin to recognize it. Give yourself permission to stop thinking about your work and your obligations long enough to identify joy.

Nurture your creativity: When I was little, every Thanksgiving, Mom would find some kind of creative project for us to do. One year we made turkeys out of old Reader’s Digest magazines. We folded the pages, spray painted them brown, added a head, some feet and a few feathers – it was great. I was really proud of my turkey. While you may not feel inclined to do that, there are other creative outlets that you could pursue. Have you ever gone to Wine & Canvas, or a similar place where you can paint a picture in three hours flat? No talent required. They walk you through it, step by step. It is truly gratifying to see the finished product. Give yourself three hours of creativity this holiday season. Better yet, share the experience with a friend or family member.

Pay attention: Notice the colors of the flowers, the sky and the trees. Listen to the sounds of traffic, holiday songs, children playing, people laughing – think Silver Bells. Focus on what is around you with a view toward finding the beauty in it.

If you try some of these activities, not only will it brighten the lives of others, it will brighten yours as well.•

__________

Jonna Kane MacDougall, an Indianapolis attorney, is assistant dean for external affairs and alumni relations at the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law and a former law school career services director. A professional career/life coach, MacDougall can be contacted at 317-775-1804 or via email at whatsnextcoaching@gmail.com. The opinions expressed in this column are the author’s.

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  1. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  2. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  3. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  4. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

  5. I am compelled to announce that I am not posting under any Smith monikers here. That said, the post below does have a certain ring to it that sounds familiar to me: http://www.catholicnewworld.com/cnwonline/2014/0907/cardinal.aspx

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