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Emancipate Yourself – Bob Marley Style

With the holidays in full swing, we have to work even harder to free our collective minds of the things that hold us captive.

“Emancipate yourself from mental slavery. None but ourselves can free our minds.”

Bob Marley - “Redemption Song”

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving holiday last week, and that you had the opportunity to spend time with friends or family, and, more importantly, that you had the chance to pause and remember all the things for which you are grateful.

Even though stores are now putting Christmas items out for sale in October (yes, that happened at the nearest Home Depot here in Atlanta), I’ve always felt like Thanksgiving was the official kick-off of the holiday season. And with the holidays come stress (mostly self-induced), seemingly fewer hours in the day, and the commercials. You know the ones I’m talking about. Who the hell buys “his and her” new cars for Christmas?

Anyway, with all the hustle and bustle that will surround us for the next month, this is the time of year to work extra hard to free our collective minds of all the extraneous feelings and thoughts that hold us captive. Beware of them creeping into your mind, acknowledge them when they do, and do your best to respond accordingly.

Worry

Mark Twain said, “Worrying is like paying a debt you don’t owe.” Interpret it however you want, but you surely aren’t helping yourself in any way by doing either of them. Let go of the worry about the type of gift to buy (and whether it’s “enough” or the right thing), the food you feel you need to cook, or if the weather is going to affect your travel plans.

Envy

If the thought of your neighbor getting the aforementioned two cars for Christmas doesn’t trigger the envy, there are plenty of other ways to get caught up in it: the other commercials for jewelry, toys, and vacations; and the dreaded social media.

Regret

When I was in college, I went to the Auburn/Alabama football game in Birmingham and ESPN’s Game Day was there. Earlier that season, Vanderbilt had played an incredibly close game against Alabama, and I asked Lee Corso what he thought of that game. His response? “It’s over.”  When we regret something, we should have the same outlook. We can’t go back and change the things that have already happened. They are over and done with. Everything happens for a reason, so the best that we can hope to do is learn from the events in our lives and move on.

Hatred

This one is a cousin to regret. We may harbor resentment or hatred for people that have wronged us but doing so will eat you up inside. Hating them still gives them power.

Give yourself the gift of…

Grace

You can’t be all things to all people (hint: you’re far from it). Secondly, you don’t have to pretend that you are either. It’s okay to not have it all together. None of us do. And what a breath of fresh air it is when people are real about it!

Letting go

Know that the only person you can control is yourself. You can’t control the actions or thoughts of anyone else. I’ve just finished reading the book The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, by Mark Manson (sorry, Mom – I know you hate that word). In the end, we all only have a limited number of “F’s” to give so use them wisely. Don’t use them on things that aren’t important to you and save them for the things that are.

This is another good time to use the 5 and 5 Rule. It says that if you’re not going to worry about it in 5 years, then don’t give it 5 minutes right now.

Another great quote I read related to this is, “What other people think of you is none of your business.”

The present

This is THE present, the gift. It’s all we’ve got, so we have to make the most of it.

Gratitude

Even for all the struggles you may face, give thanks for the many blessings that you do have in your life. We are all blessed with so much, so don’t lose sight of that.

Holidays or not, help yourself by freeing your mind of the things that hold you captive.

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People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

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