Originally appeared in Planet Jackson Hole

Forging connections during the holidays and staying mindful of the media's bottom line.

Winter holidays across the globe remind us of the joy that comes from spreading love and light. Gift giving is one of the shared expressions of these holidays. Here are some thoughts and suggestions if you'd like to reclaim the simple pleasure of giving gifts from the heart and receiving gifts in the heart. These are pure, delightful experiences that bring joy to the giver and to the recipient.

Be Mindful

Don't get hooked by the onslaught of holiday advertising messages serving up images of "the perfect family" and "the perfect gifts" and "the perfect holiday banquet." It takes mindfulness to not fall into comparing your life to the media's idealized images/messages.

Be like a neutral reporter and allow yourself to notice how brilliantly advertising accomplishes its agenda of getting people to spend money. This is not good or bad; it is simply what advertising is about and how it works. There is no need to condemn or to condone.

Messages are designed to appeal to human feelings of inadequacy, entitlement, guilt, the desire to be loved, low self-worth about not doing/being enough

Messages also appeal to the myths of materialism - that if only you possessed this or that item, or you looked more like the perfect image on the screen, then you'd be happier. However, scientific research and the world's wisdom reveal: Lasting happiness is always an inside job.

Be Courageous

Choose how you want to give from your heart. The true intent is to share the abundant love and support of the universe through your heart. It takes courage (the word courage comes from the French word for heart, "coeur") to indentify your truth and to honor it. Then you can shop or make gifts or not, and have fun coming from a clean, clear place in yourself.

No Strings Attached

Giving from the heart has no strings attached. It's OK if the other person does not give you a gift or one of "lesser" value. Your pleasure is knowing what someone else would enjoy it and in providing it. They will experience the joy that you truly "get" them and everyone's heart benefits.

P.S. - Let Love In

Many people find it easier to give rather than to receive. Allow the love, which others express towards you, to touch you deeply. It can be a challenge to let go of how you want someone to express their caring. Keep in mind that everyone is doing the best they can with who they are. Love is love, even if it?s not exactly how you want it done. PJH