What can Ebenzer Scrooge teach us about finding happiness?
A Christmas Carol is my all time favourite Christmas story.
A wonderful Victorian tale depicting the lives of 2 main characters.
Ebenezer Scrooge. The miserly Owner of a London counting house. He was a wealthy, selfish and indifferent man with a complete disregard for his fellow man with a very cold hearted approach to life. Literally hating everything in his life except money, yet he woke up Christmas morning a changed and happy man.
Bob Cratchit . Working for Scrooge as an underpaid and overworked Clerk, Cratchit was in contrast, a very kind hearted and mild mannered man. He was very poor with a large family and his youngest son Tiny Tim who was dreadfully ill and was only able to walk with crutches. Bob loved life and everything about his fellow man and he woke up Christmas morning a happy man.
I’m sure you are all familiar with the tale that illustrates the plight of the destitute , yet happy Cratchit family and the redemption of the greedy, rich yet unhappy Scrooge.
The tale shows us that Christmas is a time for Family and sharing and celebrations – much of which has been lost over the years through social pressures to give the latest (and expensive) gadgets and toys as gifts. These days, a tree that doesn’t have an abundance of wrapped gifts underneath it appears almost barren.
Ultimately, the biggest difference of all between The Cratchits and Scrooge is LOVE.
Bob and his family have love for each other, for their friends and neighbours and even for Scrooge himself.
Scrooge on the other hand has only love for money. This lack of love consumed him and to that end he can see no joy in life or the joy he could bring to others lives who are less fortunate that him.
Of course, we live in a consumer society and are bombarded with the latest trends on a daily basis but if we lose sight of what is truly important – happiness will evade us.
This of course starts with loving yourself first – which in turn starts with forgiveness of self.
In The Christmas Carol – Scrooge is visited by 3 ghosts, past, present and future – showing him the error of his ways and the future in store for him if he doesn’t change.
These ghosts make him re-evaluate his life and his priorities and through these changes he learns to love again – starting with himself. This love then leads to him finding happiness in places he didn’t even imagine. For example in the connection he finds with Tiny Tim. The young boy showed no judgement towards him based on his previous miserly ways and accepted Scrooge into his heart with open arms.
So what can ‘The Christmas Carol’ teach us about happiness?
Well, despite living in poverty and with a son who was likely to die very young, Bob lived life with an open heart and open eyes. He saw the beauty that was around him – in the every day things such as family, friends, nature and he savoured every moment of it. He was aware of how short and precious life is and he didn’t let a single thing pass him by without noticing it. Even when it came to Scrooge, he defended him seeing that below the miserable facade was a good man in there.
The Cratchits on the surface looked as though the had little reason to celebrate Christmas. Yet they found a happiness that is authentic because they CHOSE not to indulge in misery. What The Cratchits chose instead is love, gratitude and peace.
Scrooge on the other hand had everything he wanted – he could have had anything money can buy! However, he was so miserly in fact, that he didn’t even allow himself the short term pleasure of spending. He told himself he was happy, yet he had no friends, no family around him and the only love he felt is for the money he possessed.
Even with his wealth and privilege Scrooge lived life with pain. misery and selfishness. He spent the time with his eyes closed, preferring to concentrate his gaze on his wealth and not acknowledging the world around him. Life was passing him by quickly and he didn’t notice all the things he had missed or lost over the years. Things that had taken the joy he could have had away from him. It was only when forced to reflect that he realised he had lost touch with his family and the love of his life through his own actions, whilst choosing instead to blame the outside world for his misfortune.
Bob Cratchit was happy, Ebenzer Scrooge was not.
I suppose, the summary of this tale is that happiness is found within you.
No amount of gifts or wealth or material possessions can make you happy despite the short term ‘high’ of having new things. The truth is that the more possessions you have can in fact make you insecure! As was in Scrooges case. He was so attached and consumed by his wealth that he worried that it would all diminish and be lost and was so pre-occupied with maintaining it, that this made him anxious, miserable and at times angry.
So as Christmas fast approaches, with its pressures and stresses of today, remember what Christmas is really about. Not so much the giving and receiving of gifts but the giving and receiving of love. The sharing of a joint experience with loved ones and the making of true and happy memories to look back on. It’s not about what you have in your bank account or under your tree but what you have in your heart that counts.
I’m talking about real love here too! Not just small affairs of the heart, not the superficial, short lasting lust of material things, but real, true deep love. Of course it’s the love you feel for you Husband or Wife and your Children. But love is also found in the giving of time and energy to bring joy to those people that are less fortunate than you. It’s caring for your elderly neighbour or a lonesome friend that may be spending Christmas alone.
Looking outside for happiness is futile as Scrooge would tell you if he were here today (and a real person of course!)
Love is the key to happiness and happiness is found inside you.
I’ll leave you with this wonderful quote by the late Sidney Banks;
“One of the most beautiful things I can bestow upon you is the knowledge that love is the mystical key that opens the doors to the beauty and happiness you seek. Love… is a feeling that comes in many disguises. It may be caring for someone in need, loving your husband, loving your children, caring for and helping your neighbours and friends. Or it may be bringing a little joy to others who are less fortunate. There is no end to the different ways to use this beautiful gift called love.”
By Lisa Holton – Lisa Holton Coaching December 2018