Do you have a cook, baker or entertainer on your Christmas gift list? Does the idea of finding a thoughtful, appealing gift for them strike fear in your heart? I get it. I love to cook and bake and over the years I’ve received my fair share of gifts in that vein. Some of been home runs. (Thanks again, Cole, for the mandoline!) Others have been duds. (Does anyone really need a separate appliance that vertically roasts chickens?) Sometimes it can feel impossible to find something your foodie a) will like and use and b) doesn’t already have. Here are some ideas for gifts that are new, different and down-right beautiful.
I haven’t posted since February! I have no excuse. It’s time to get back to it. I read a genius article recently about how our brains are being rewired due to online versus analog reading. It was thought-provoking and made me glad that I came of age, an avid reader, in the days of physical books. But the thing that jumped out at me was one particular thought: Beauty in, beauty out. Here, in the author’s own words:
“In Silicon Valley, they have a saying that explains why an algorithm starts producing unwanted results: Garbage in, garbage out. The idea is that an algorithm can only work with the information you feed it. Aren’t writers – all creators – algorithmic in that way? Our job is to process what we consume. Beauty in, beauty out. Garbage in, garbage out.”
It’s really the simplest of ideas; to do better, you have to consume quality. To write well you must read good material. To cook well you must eat good food. To make authentic art you must view good art. The idea is not to copy a writer or artist or maker you admire or to slavishly follow recipes or lists or someone else’s path to success. What you’re doing is increasing your knowledge base so you can easily recognize quality; in other’s works, of course; but most importantly, in your own.
I took this idea as a jumping off point. I think that this idea doesn’t just apply to any given art or craft you’re hoping to master but quality of life as well. If you focus on what’s wrong or unfinished or imperfect in your life then that’s all you’ll see: the flaws, the glitches, the messes. Conversely, if you focus on the bounty and abundance of your life then that’s what will fill your heart. Sure, you’ll still see the things that need work but instead of seeing them as a reflection of yourself as an unworthy being you’ll see them as a chance to improve your already bright life.
Positive thinking is not a panacea for the ills of the world and it’s certainly not meant to blind you to the problems of modern life that you can do something to help remedy. Instead, it’s meant to help you continue to strive to improve your lot and the greater world around you. This can be especially important to those of us who struggle with mental health and especially important at this time of year when the struggle can be the toughest. Look for the good. Look for the happy. Look for the beauty in your life.