In the USA, around $2.9 billion is spent every year on gift wrap and related accessories. I imagine a pretty fair chunk of it will be thrown out today, the day after Christmas.
Now I’m not knocking gift wrapping. Like you, perhaps, the sight of brightly packaged presents under the Christmas tree still fills me with the excitement I felt as a kid. There’s also a lot to be said for the pleasure of doing the wrapping itself (in my case generally accompanied by some Christmas tunes and a small libation) and I’m pretty sure nobody would deny that it’s fun to rip the wrapping off a gift – even if it turns out to be one of those awkard ‘just what I’ve always wanted’ presents.
Of course, community unwrapping can leave your living room strewn with mountains of discarded paper. But even this can be no big deal. Gathering it up for disposal can feel like one of those tasks which gets done faster than one might expect.
A messy room gets considerably tidier in the process, and it’s a chore which puts me in mind of the tendency I have now and then (perhaps you too?) to allow unwanted negative thoughts to creep into my consciousness.
The Dalai Lama has said that “The central method for achieving a happier life is to train your mind in a daily practice that weakens negative attitudes and strengthens positive ones.”
So here’s a suggestion. As you gather up unwanted wrapping paper or put away untidy clutter, why not imagine doing something similar with unneeded thoughts and attitudes?
Just as with most skills, starting out may not be easy but you’ll almost certainly get better with practice.
Begin by recognising your negative attitudes, then question them. Do they really hold water? Are they really neccesary? Are they helping you in any way at all? If not, tell them, quite simply, to go away. To leave you alone. To get the heck out of town.
Do however see if you can send them on their way permanently.
Discarded gift wrapping should be recycled. Discarded negative thoughts shouldn’t.