Win Today with Christopher Cook

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The One Quality You Must Develop to Find Peace and Joy

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Tucked-away in a corner of one of my favorite restaurants tonight, I sit, waiting for a table. And as per usual, my favorite way to pass time is to people-watch. Not in uncommon fashion, the buzz of rapid-fire conversation muffles the rugged Detroit rock music that is playing overhead.

Life just feels different right now.

There’s really something about this time of year that cranks-up our intensity, isn’t there? In fact, “hustle and bustle” is generally the only guideline for our hurried marching orders from late November until January.

Stepping & Stopping

Herein lies the question: how many of us are moving so quickly through life that we fail to actually experience life? Another way of asking the same question is this: how many of us are stepping at an unnatural pace and thus forsaking stopping to be present in each moment; present enough to experience the greatest treasures in life?

It’s my opinion and experience that the best things in life come in small packages; so small in fact that we very well might miss them if we’re too busy to stop and be present.

Instead, a lot of us are distracted by the “next big thing,” which is simply a symptom of our highly stimulated, over-clocked, under-rested, smartphone staring culture.

Destination Disease

Succumbing to destination disease, which disguises itself as the ever tantalizing “bigger, better, and faster” trap, is a tragic way to live. Why? Because bigger, better, and faster are constantly moving (and often insatiable) targets.

The hard truth is that destination disease distracts you and me from living a life of intentionality and actually undermines the development of our total potential because it manipulates us into thinking that we’ll only grow and gain when we arrive at a certain place. Yet the things that add the greatest value to our lives and develop the richness of both our personality and potential are found in the process of life. And the only way to draw from the process of life is to be present in each moment.

Kind of like tonight.

Soul Food

As I sit in the corner of this small-town gem of a restaurant (really, this place has received national recognition and boasts three-hour weekend wait times), I’m salivating at what’s to come: some of the best mesquite-smoked, Detroit-kissed, Memphis-inspired soul food I’ve ever eaten. But even better than the mountain of pulled pork headed my way is an evening seasoned by real soul food: meaningful conversation and a lot of laughter.

But truth be told, without the company of one of my very best friends, it’s just a pile of meat.

And so at 6:50PM, buzzer in-hand, I sit. I wait. I stare. I paint imaginary pictures of the real-world lives I’ve watched hurriedly inhale food, engage in small-talk, complain (and even argue) about the mall crowds they’re about to face just as soon as “the waiter would hurry-up and bring the bill.”

They’re missing it. Heck, I might have missed it, too if I hadn’t stopped to…be present.

Blame it on the Christmas season maybe, but I think the time of year simply exposes a deep-seated reality that far too many of us miss the greatest treasures of the season: relationships, appreciation, gratitude, and laughter; you know, the simple things…

The lasting things.

Instead, the rush to buy presents overshadows the beauty of simply being present in each moment—in the fun, in the mundane, and even in the chaos, with the people who matter most to us. Totally opposite of the “hurried” life.

The Hurried Life

You see, the “hurried” life mandates we “be all…for all…all the time.” Listen up: you don’t have to be a hero. Just be here, right now. Those who matter most in your life need your presence more than your presents.

Most importantly, without being fully present, there’s one gift many people will entirely miss this holiday season. Allow me to explain.

Nothing’s New Under the Sun

Over two thousand years ago, in a time of tremendous political unrest, the ancient Romans had established a two-tiered system of government consisting of Roman overseers and Jewish leaders who exercised control in the name of Rome. And in the middle of that chaos, a promise was born:

“Behold, the virgin shall become pregnant and give birth to a Son, and they shall call His name Emmanuel–which, when translated, means, God with us.” (Matthew 1:23, AMP)

In the chaos, Jesus was born. And in your chaos and hurriedness…Emmanuel.

God is with you and me, right here, right now.

He came in such a small, understated fashion that people actually missed Him. And in the same way today, the very Gift for which all of humanity so desperately needs may be missed…by the “hurried” life. So this holiday season, slow down and be present.

Merry Christmas, my friend.