Hello and welcome to my final blog entry of the year. I am going to post this on my personal blog as well as the blog of the Anglo European College of Therapeutic Hypnosis as it is relevant to both of those.

Yes indeed, welcome to the final blog entry of 2014. This time next week, it’ll be Christmas proper. Christmas actual. No more preparations, we’ll all be enjoying whatever merriment we have chosen.

Having run a lot of training courses and classes in recent weeks, on Sunday night when my Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy Training course had finished, I joined friends and family for dinner, drinks and then we watched Jools Holland and his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra at the Bournemouth International Centre; they were brilliant. I was mesmerised by Jools Holland and the way he plays the piano. The guest singers were all equally mesmerising and we had a lovely time. Then I took a rare day off on Monday, with Grandparents looking after the children, Katie and I went to the cinema to watch the latest and final Hobbit film. I loved every minute of it. There is a LOT of sword fighting in this film, luckily I love that. We had a family meal with the children later that evening and I felt relaxed and invigorated once again.

This week, I have been getting things in order in preparation for the new year and will then be off for the festive season later on today.

We had our Christmas party earlier this week which was preceded by a brilliant CPD training day that we hosted that was run by guest lecturer Mark Chappell on the subject of using hypnosis for pain management. Mark works at Poole Harbour hospital and has a wealth of experience and a professional leaning that puts a smile on my face; he adheres to evidence and is grounded yet clearly loves this field. It was an excellent day and we got equally wonderful feedback from the delegates.

We then had our Christmas party which is always an opportunity for myself, our class assistants, graduates and students to all let our hair down. One thing I have noticed throughout the years is that hypnosis boffins and hypnotherapists do know how to party. We ate, drank, danced and had a lovely time. I would share more photos, but all that I have seen posted anywhere currently are far too outrageous for public consumption!

One of the things I have prided myself on with the college here is that we aim to prove a sense of community to all who would benefit from it. Many firm friendships have been made here, and much support is ongoing from a support network that is solid, useful and can brighten the most grey of days.

The Christmas party is the signal that I am about to have some time off. I have not had much time off this year, so will now be away from the office until the New Year. Before I do that, I wanted to leave you with two thing: 1. My thoughts on living life in accordance with true values, especially at Christmas, as written yesterday in my Adam Up ezine. 2. What many people believe is the greatest speech of all time, which I think deserves to be played over and over at this time of year…..

There are a few Facebook memes going around at the moment about the true meaning of Christmas. I absolutely adore Christmas time. I am not religious despite being raised in a religious household, so for me, the meaning of Christmas becomes more about sharing love, expressing sentiments of well-being to all and getting to celebrate life. We’ll still attend a carol service at our local church on Christmas eve with the children who get to sing (or shout!) and we take them on the Santa Express through the Dorset countryside too.

My Mother was Norwegian and in Norway they celebrate Christmas mainly on Christmas Eve. We honour that here and let the children have a present to open, we enjoy a Norwegian themed Christmas dinner and wish each other ‘God Jul’ (Norwegian for Happy Christmas) before getting off to bed ready for Christmas day.

However idyllic we attempt to make things for our kids this year, there is one thing that seems to creep in at every point with Christmas. I think it is something that is inherent in the world we live in, but gets emphasised and exaggerated at Christmas: Buying stuff.

In the western world that we live in, and for all those of you who are subscribers to this ezine, you have a degree of affluence. There are many, many people in the world a lot less affluent than you; both in your home country and more so around the world. We all tend to buy stuff. Buying stuff is soooooo easy these days too. We have a lot of influences telling us to buy stuff. For me, I have to deal with my own incessant desire to own more technology, more hypnosis books and more running gear…. But then the kids look at the telly and start pointing to stuff they want too, or that other kids have, or things they see in shop windows and on billboards. Just wanting to buy stuff is one thing, but the ability to buy stuff at will, having that level of affluence that we all have, can create some problems.

Many people mistakenly believe affluence makes them feel good. Buying and owning stuff gets equated with self-worth. Ok, so we might not all be multi billionaires, but you are able to buy stuff you want, live where you choose, own stuff that you want. For many of us, it makes us feel like we have or are achieving something, or that we are somehow worthy.

Then why does owning more stuff, buying more stuff still leave us wanting more? Or perhaps leaving us feel dissatisfied? The initial joy of buying more stuff diminishes or we get bored. Perhaps it even leads to buying more stuff. Yet is is only a temporary satisfaction.

Aren’t we supposed to feel good if we buy more stuff? Isn’t affluence supposed to make life easier? For some maybe it does in some ways. But it does not do any good if we mistake affluence for self-worth. Owning loads of stuff, or making plenty of money does not make anxiety or depression go away. For some, it can make mental health worse.

Those of you who are disputing that you are affluent, may still wish to be so, or aspire to be so. Yet those with more  modest lives may have far less to concern themselves with beyond making ends meet, as unpleasant as that may be. Very often, those who live highly affluent lives on a grand scale can very often find that any neurotic behaviour creates emotional, social and financial debacles, worthy of headlines in glossy magazines.

If you are addicted to affluence (or the appearance of affluence) or aspire to be affluent so much so that it distracts you from all the other beauty and joy to be found in life, know that affluence does not necessarily cure the anxiety of insignificance. It does not provide you with a life purpose. It does not satisfy a neurotic need, which, by definition, is a need that can never be satisfied. In short, affluence does not equate to self-worth.

This festive season, if you are affluent (or a wannabe affluent), be aware of whether your riches (or desired riches) are liberating or enslaving you and your life:

Are you being problematically distracted by your ability to get (or consume) whatever you want or are you in control, getting what you truly want or need?

Are you letting your affluence (or desire for it) destroy your ability to find a purpose in life, or are you using your affluence to better your life and the lives of others?

Is your affluence or desire for it leading you into perilous pastimes, or are you willing and able to tame those impulses?

Are your children being taught good values or are they adversely affected by their easy access to money and the stuff it can buy?

We all tend to reflect on the year we’ve had during December, and we start planning, plotting, creating goals and resolutions and examining our aspirations. Think about letting your true values in life be satisfied while you set goals, think about what being affluent really means to you and think about having a wealthy mindset that enriches and encompasses the true values in your life; that allows you to not always be seeking more, or desiring more stuff. When you go to work each day, is it really ONLY because you want to earn money, or is it because you want to support your family, for example.

The philosopher Aristotle was one of the first people to describe a great way of examining the purpose of our behaviours; by asking the question “what is this being done in the sake of?” If you keep asking that question about your own behaviours, you’ll get an idea of your own driving purpose, and very rarely is it about having money or being affluent for the sake of it. Enquire of yourself:

What do I want my life to stand for?
What would I most like my life to be remembered for when I’m gone?
What sort of things do I want to spend my life doing?
What sort of person do I most want to be in my relationships, at work, and in life in general?

Get a sense of what your values are, the make sure that this year you plan in accordance with what you truly value. Think about what affiance, or the pursuit of affluence is actually about for you, and I hope you get to realise that if you live according to your true values, you’ll feel so much happier, abundant, wealthy and affluent right away.

If you are struggling to motivate yourself to seek out what really matters to you (or even if you are not) then watch this wonderful clip of Charlie Chaplin in the closing scene of his film The Great Dictator, it is rousing, uplifting and though might seem a tad dated in parts, it can be very well applied to modern living.

I wish you and your families the most wonderful festive season. I shall be back in the New Year. Much love to you all.