Monday, December 17, 2007

Action preceds emotion

I've expressed to some people lately that I was having a tough time getting into the Christmas mood. Circumstances around me were not as conducive to developing "holiday cheer" as they had been in previous years. It seemed that a little "humbug" might creep into the Christmas season. However, a principle was driven home for in this time that I've known for quite a while. That is, that action precedes emotion. Frequently, emotions are triggered through actions that are predetermined by the will. This is why when a son says to a father, "I don't feel like doing my chores," the father can insightfully respond, "I can change the way you feel." In the Bible, obedience is prized over feeling.

For this reason, it occurred to me to engage in some festive practices anyway, regardless of the feeling preceding it. In the NOCS code, we summarize this with the reminder "There is no feeling...There is truth." Practicing what is true cannot be subject to feelings. It's not that feelings are not acknowledged. It's that they are not recognized as the driving factor...truth is. As a result, I look to those practices that reflect the celebration and following of truth, believing that feeling will follow.

Therefore, instead of trusting in my feelings to conjure up the "Christmas spirit" all on their own, I dove into practices that exuded it anyway, such as a Christmas party, celebrating with people and reflecting on the coming commemoration of the birth of Christ. If the feelings are slow coming, practice something that may very well cause them to follow along.

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