There is a trend in the decluttering and simplicity world that tells you that happiness lies in getting rid of “things”—that material items in your life are the problem.
And in some religious traditions, there is a tendency to say that you shouldn’t be turning to anything other than God for comfort in life.
But I’m here to say that it is okay if there are material and temporary things that are bringing you comfort right now—even if those things aren’t overtly spiritual.
And I say this as someone who is a spiritual, religious person of faith!
Of course, we should ALWAYS avoid addictions of any kind (including hoarding).
But that’s not what I’m talking about here.
I’m talking about the fact that during hard seasons that involve a lot of change or difficulty, you are not a bad person for finding comfort in material, temporary comforts.
Is your favorite sitcom or YouTuber getting you through a hard time?
Is that walk in your favorite neighborhood the thing that’s getting you through?
Are those fiction books that are filled with magic bringing you some much-needed joy?
If those things are good and bringing you comfort, is there a chance that those material things could actually be considered a gift from above that’s helping you get through a hard time?
Even for the religious/spiritual/faithful among us, we have the scripture found in James 1:17 that says,
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights…”
So if that sitcom, cup of coffee, book, or any other cozy thing is bringing you joy (without causing you or others any harm), feel free to enjoy that without feeling guilty or worrying that you’re turning to the “wrong” things to help you get through a hard time in life.
If it is good, it is a gift. Let yourself enjoy it and be comforted.
Shop for cozy, comforting gifts in my online shop here.
I was browsing through Pinterest recently and came across an image that quickly swept me up into a world of nostalgia.
“Welcome to the Forest of Feelings” it said at the top. It was a promotional image introducing the Care Bears and their cousins. Remember them? The magical and adorable characters from the toy shelves and movie screens of the 1980s?
Well, I got completely swept up into that world again looking at that image, just like I would have as a child. It was a full page of detailed, richly colored illustrations of adorable creatures, each with their own unique personalities and descriptions being showcased with things like:
Gentle Heart Lamb: “Even though I’m usually shy, I’m a very trusting sort. I’ve got a soft heart for anyone in need. You can always count on me!”
Lotsa Heart Elephant: “If it’s strength you need to carry on, I’ll help you hang in there. I carry a lot of weight around here!”
Cozy Heart Penguin: “Everyone feels comfy cozy when I’m around. Whether playing a game or having a friendly party, you never have to worry ‘cause I take care of everything!”
The descriptions went on and on, like a list of patron saints for the magical realm. They were here to help, they cared, and you could find them all in the Forest of Feelings.
And boy did I have “all the feelings” as a child. (Umm...still do!)
After thinking about it, I realized that there was something about the Care Bears and their cousins that made it safe to have feelings...like it was normal and okay to have them.
Looking at this sweet little throwback image got me thinking...
What if we all became our own Care Bears?
I mean, couldn’t the world use more creatures of kindness and compassion in it?
But depending on your circumstances, it may be hard to find that kind of kindness in your life right now.
So, why wait for someone else to show you kindness? Why not be your own Care Bear every once in a while?
Think about it...
When you’re lost in the “forest of feelings,” are you harsh with yourself, or do you make your mind a safe place to be? When you mess up, do you show yourself grace, or do you scold yourself?
If we want the world to be a more kind and understanding place, doesn’t that also include you? I mean, you’re in this world too, so don’t you get to have the same kindness and understanding as everyone else?
After all, “if your compassion does not include yourself, it’s incomplete.” (Jack Kornfield)
So, go ahead—spread some kindness and compassion out there in the Forest of Feelings...and don’t forget to include yourself!
While you’re here, don't forget to stop by the gift shop and browse for some cozy gifts for yourself or someone else!
I used to feel guilty for resting. Most of my adult life was a constant go, go, go.
In college, if I spent some time relaxing or having fun, it felt like all the things I should be doing were hanging over my head like a little black rain cloud.
And then when I taught school for seven years (and tutored in the evenings to help make ends meet), summers off were spent planning the next school year's activities.
For the longest time, I associated busyness with rightness.
If I'm busy, I'm doing the right thing, I thought.
I got married and moved to rural New England.
Being newly married and in a new town, my schedule came to a huge halt - and for the first time ever in my adult life, my calendar had a LOT of white space in it!
Was I relieved?
I felt guilty. I felt like I should be doing.
But at the same time, deep down, I think I knew I didn't really have to be busy. I started noticing my guilty feelings, and I started challenging them.
And then I came across the concept of slow living.
Ah...slow living: the breath of fresh air that I needed!
Slow living has meant different things to different people over the years, but basically it's the concept of taking slower approaches to aspects of everyday life.
Finding out there was a whole movement and lifestyle that recognized that busyness didn't necessarily equal rightness was SO exciting to me, and it helped relieve a lot of that false guilt I was feeling.
While it's true that sometimes in life we just have to move quickly to get something done, it's also true that if taken as a way of life, constantly going and never resting will eventually drain your strength and keep you from being able to do the things that need done.
Everyone and everything needs seasons of rest. I mean...look at all those adorable critters that hibernate every winter! And speaking of winter, in many parts of the world nature itself takes a break and rests.
It's time to give yourself permission to rest. It's time to stop feeling guilty for taking things slower.
Rest, recharge, and refuel.
And while you're at it, check out the online gift shop! It's filled with things that'll remind you that it's okay to stop, slow down, and enjoy the little things.