Give and Take
Freddie Mercury

Giving and thinking of others.

That is what the Christmas spirit is supposed to be about.

In my experience, though, the holiday seasonis also a time whenpeople think about what they want for themselves.

That’s why I’ve decided to shelve my traditional Christmas column ideas for a week so I can use today’s piece to try to figure out what that might be.

I suspect many of us would like to be famous and I’m sure most of us would like to earn loads of cash, or just see some unexpected money fall into our lives.

I think most of us believe those things would make us happy, but I’m not sure that is the case… not on their own, anyway.

They certainly didn’t work for the main character in the last film I watched and the main adult character in the last book I read.

The film was Bohemian Rhapsody, the more or less true story of Freddie Mercury, the lead singer of the legendary rock band Queen,who died from AIDS in 1991.

Freddie was raised in Zanzibar and India, so it is not too surprising he struggled to fit in after he moved to the UK in his teens.

He was also gay in an era when that was not yet accepted and his oversized teeth made him a target for abuse.

He did, however, have loads of talent and confidence and he used those things well to gain fame, fortune and artistic freedom in an industry dominated by established formulas for success.

None of those things did the trick, so he moved on to drugs, extravagant parties and casual sex… as many people in his financial position seem to do.

Not too surprisingly, his lifestyle didn’t go down well with his father, so the end product was even more unhappiness and self-disgust.

I won’t tell you the whole story, in case you want to see the film, but in the end, he discovered family, friends and helping others were the things that made him happy, because… and I think this is the important part… they helped him to like himself.

About a Boy, is a book about a man in his 30s who lived off his father’s song writing royalties and never worked a day in his life.

Will didn’t do anything for others unless he had to, and, like Freddie, he didn’t like himself so he wasn’t happy.

That all changed, however, after a 12-year-old misfit with a crazy mother decided to adopt him as his father figure.

The name of the book comes from the fact that once Will stopped just thinking about himself and started thinking about what was best for the boy, he started to like himself, and like Freddy, found happiness.

Yeah, I know, films and novels aren’t always true to life, but, ‘finding a way to like yourself,’ is such a common theme that I’m convinced it is the key ingredient of happiness… and I think that is what all of us really want.

Giving and thinking of others.

Maybe embracing the Christmas spirit might be a good way to go… especially if we can do it for more than just the holiday season.

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