Holidays are bittersweet. Some like to shop. Some don’t. Some are good cooks. Some aren’t. Some have family to spend those special days with. Some are far from home. Many of us are blessed to have it all. We are surrounded by people that love us, have gifts for everyone on our list, and a buffet of all the goodies one could imagine. Yet, the stress of being Martha Stewart is overwhelming. My advice to you all in this time of holiday madness is this: Find the pony.
I heard this profound advice just a few months ago from a wise woman in my field. She’s a delightful person, full of laughter, with a bright smile. And, I remember asking her if she was always so positive. Actually, it’s rather sad that I would ask someone this. Are so many so grumpy these days that we are surprised when someone is cheerful?
But, apparently, I was surprised. So, I asked. When she replied that she is typically positive and chipper, I continued…”How do you do that?” Her answer was as odd as it was genius, “I find the pony”, she said.
I remember the group breaking out in uproarious laughter just because it was such a funny response. But, what did it mean?
She went on to explain how her life had been marred with some major tragedy and disappointment. That she had experienced many years of major sadness. Then one day, she sat down and had a little talk with herself. “Self”, she said. “If there is this much manure in my life, then there just has to be a pony somewhere.” And, from that day forward, she has always looked for the pony. Brilliant!
And this is my advice to you today. While life may not always be perfect or easy, look for the pony. One way to start is by helping someone else. It’s really hard to feel bad about yourself or your circumstances if you’re reaching out to help someone else.
Several local non-profits need volunteers this time of year. Food pantries are always in need of food. Santa needs elves. Someone might be alone, ask them to break bread with you. Heck, even the guy behind you in the Starbucks drive-thru might appreciate a coffee on you today.
Generosity begets generosity, and generous people are typically happy people. We see this through donors every day at the Community Foundation. It’s the reciprocity principle of giving.
The bottom line is this…sometimes life does give you manure. Worst case scenario, look for the pony. Best case scenario, be the pony for someone else.