Friday, November 21, 2014

Cunningly Caring

I have known some incredibly thoughtful gift givers. What has always touched me is the fact that the giver was clearly listening. It is difficult to give a meaningful gift to someone you haven't really engaged with unless you have a cunning plan. Cunning plans are rare and often not so cunning.

I have every now and then come up with something great, but I normally try think of the gift at the last moment and rattling through my brain can't make the connections. While our brains are incredibly powerful, their storage systems aren't exactly neatly filed away. We tend to just throw stuff in there. A couple of fun books which show how to improve your memory such as 'Mind Tricks' and 'Moonwalking with Einstein' talk about the value of learning lists and then making connections just so that you can find your way to the memories that are there. It also helps you form memories quickly because as you observe something, you are able to immediately link it. We are very good at ignoring stuff we don't think is important. When you learn a new word or something comes up in a conversation you were interested in, suddenly you start noticing that word being far more common than you thought it was. A big part of having a good memory is making quick connections as soon as you observe something.

Like many things that make us happy, the need to make quick connections when we observe great gift ideas has to become a habit. I find it far easier to write my blog every day than when I was writing less frequently. This is because I am always thinking about ideas for new posts. In every conversation I have, a little note scribbler is scurrying away in my head. I think the same thing might be true for gifts. If gifts are saved for birthdays and Christmas, then you suddenly have to come up with ideas just as you remember or are reminded.

An obstacle we face with gift giving is that life seems to have become more expensive even as people have become wealthier in general. More choice. More things just out of reach. Often we stop giving birthday gifts to adults and the Christmas tree is dedicated to the kiddies just to stop wallets bleeding. I suspect the more regularly you delve into cunning plans, the less it will cost as you will be able to pick up great deals. As for Christmas being for kids. I have one word for that - 'pffffffft'. Finally, we start worrying about the commercialisation of holidays that are important to us and that takes the shine off. There is no reason we can't invent holidays of our own. I am a big fan of creating annual holidays for any particular reason that floats your boat. Perhaps like giving gifts, identifying things worth celebrating is also a great habit to form. Remembering something important that happened to someone you care about is perhaps the best value gift of all.

Pffffft - We are all just big kids

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