The Best Presents Are Experiences, Not Things

I love presents as much as the next person. But the BEST gifts are experiences, not things. Think about it.

In your whole life, how many presents can your recall? Now how many of them do you recall because they were wonderful or meaningful in some way? (Not because they were ugly, weird, etc.?) I’ll bet less than 20. Maybe 12.  In your whole life.

Now think about some meaningful experiences that you have had with others. Experiences that were someone else’s original plan, not yours. Experiences that were offered to you to participate in. As gifts. I would bet that you could remember over 75% of them, which would take you well over 12.

The gift of shared experience offers us so much more. This gift is by nature more giving. It is by nature more thoughtful. And it is by nature more enduring. Who doesn’t want to give and receive a gift that is thoughtful and enduring?

And don’t forget fun. Usually these gifts are pretty fun. Instead of the gift opening with the one second exclamation of “wow, thank so much,” you’re going on a ride together. Buckle up.

Still unsure about what I’m talking about? Here are some real life examples. Your friend invites you to pick out your own pet for your birthday. Friend will purchase whatever pet you want. S/he will take you to as many places as you want and help you get your choice including supplies. Example two – you have a very demanding life, but you love it. Once a year, however, you and your sibling go away for a few days together to unwind. You pick the place together, your sibling plans the itinerary. The whole thing. You are thrilled to go without having to be the organizer. Example three – your spouse invites you out to lunch and a walk in the country just because it’s Saturday, and the sun is shining, and s/he wants to hold your hand for a while.

Be open to giving and accepting the precious gift of shared experience. The more open we are, the more we will have, and the richer our lives will be.



Help, Thanks, Wow

There are 3 basic prayers: Help. Thanks. Wow.

So says Anne Lamott in her book HELP THANKS WOW – The Three Essential Prayers. Below is the gist of her book. All quotes are hers.

Keep it simple – “God can handle honesty, and prayer begins in honest conversation. My belief is that when you are telling the truth, you are close to God.”

Help – “Help us walk through this. Help us come through.  It is the first great prayer.”  “Praying ‘Help’ means that we ask the Something give us the courage to stop in our tracks….”    

Thanks – “You say, Thank you for lifting this corner of the curtain so I can see the truth, maybe for just a moment, but in a way that might change my life forever.”  “To have been so lost that you felt abducted, to feeling found returned, and set back onto you feet:  Oh my God, thank you – thankyouthankyou. Thank you. Thanks.” 

Wow – “‘Wow’ means we are not dulled to wonder. We click into being fully present where we’re stunned into that gasp…’Wow’ is having ones mind blown by the mesmerizing or the miraculous: the veins in a leaf, birdsong, volcanoes.”

Why pray? – C.S. Lewis wrote: “I pray because I can’t help myself. I pray because I’m helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time, waking and sleeping. It doesn’t change God. It changes me.”

“Those are the basic instructions, to which I can add only:  Amen. Let it happen!”