Learning lessons from the Christmas cactus

With Christmas just a few days away and New Year’s just around the corner, many folks are feeling overwhelmed from overindulging, overspending and just flat out overdoing. Taking a lesson from the Christmas cactus, perhaps we can gain a little perspective and take some of the edge off.

The Christmas cactus, or schlumbergera, is a small genus of cacti with six species found in the coastal mountains of southeastern Brazil. Most of the year this is an ordinary little plant, not particularly attractive, something you might use for the background in your garden. However, come December, something in the DNA comes to life and it produces festive red, white and/or pink blooms. It does not take a green thumb or genetic engineering; it is simply programmed to bloom.

If we consider for a moment this plant, with no intellect, is programmed to bloom, then can we have any doubt that inside our own DNA is a program for us to bloom; an instinct if you will … to thrive, to succeed, to change and grow? Whatever successes or failures you’ve had in the past, is there still more that you’re programmed for? Maybe you’ve seemed ordinary, even to yourself, like the Christmas cactus during the first 11 months of the year. Yet isn’t it possible that now, today, this holiday season, the upcoming year, is your time to bloom?

Like the Christmas cactus, you are wired to blossom and succeed – in your personal life, with your family and in your career. There really are no limits except those you set yourself. We live in the freest country ever created, at a time of unparalleled human technology and wealth. Even the Declaration of Independence, the founding document of our country, tells us that we are “endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights, which among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” In spite of national struggles this year, we continue to prosper as a nation and as a society.

Sir John Templeton has said that the real standard of living has quadrupled during his lifetime, something that has never happened before in human existence.

And so, as we move into 2013, we have an opportunity for a fresh start. In terms of health, it is the perfect time to work on those overindulgences. You know the routine, it’s all about diet and exercise. It’s that simple. Find ways to change up your diet without sacrificing. Find ways to exercise that are fun.

In terms of overdoing, what immediately comes to mind are hibernating bears. While you can’t hibernate, you can put away the gifts and decorations and slow down the social calendar. With colder weather, we are enticed to cuddle up indoors with a good book or favorite movie. A little weekend hibernating is always good for the spirit.

In terms of finances, it is the perfect time to work on any overspending. As you pull all of your documents to prepare annual income taxes, you can also take time to conduct your personal annual financial review. Look at your spending habits. Examine your cash flow. Review your investments. Personal financial planning in a nutshell is the process of evaluating your current resources, coming up with a plan, implementing that plan and monitoring it on a regular basis. If you don’t have a plan, look to your financial professionals to help. Once established it’s a fairly simple matter to monitor and review.

Good health, proper pace and getting your financial house in order will free up energies to more fully enjoy life. The Christmas cactus is going to bloom at the right time – because its DNA is programmed that way – and so can you. Wishing you and yours a wonderful holiday season and a prosperous and healthy new year!

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