The Holiday Spirit: What motivates you?

The holiday season is a time for sharing and gratitude, when people demonstrate acts of kindness and tend to be charitable.  Many times, however, we see people  – both children and adults alike, busy making lists of things they want and consumed in finding someone they know to fulfill their desires. Their focus seems to be on what they want, not what they want to give.

I wanted to use my PIG – APE – Ego – YOU framework to illustrate how we can go about giving gifts that are meaningful to others and some of the ways that the PIG, APE, and Ego can get in the way of our holiday spirit.

We humans have innate drives that evolved to feed and protect ourselves. Yet often these drives act in ways that sabotage our chances for happiness and success. They make us focus on instant but fleeting rewards, and the drives also get entangled with our Egos — making us obsessed with “feeding and protecting” delusional mind-made identities that aren’t who we really are.
We need a simple guide to know what to look for and lookout for — i.e., the chief sources of suffering, the inner impediments to happiness. These hidden drives, which for many thousands of years were essential to survival, tend to get us modern humans into trouble — the PIG, the ever-present drive to Pursue Instant Gratification; and the APE, the drive to Avoid Painful Experience. In earlier times, these drives served our ancestors well in feeding and protecting themselves. Today, they tend to operate mainly within the mind, where they serve to feed and protect the Ego, the false mind-created identity whose constant demands lead us astray with its addiction to achievements, accumulations, and failures.

All three mind-creatures get away with their mischief by functioning below the level of Awareness. The path to joy and fulfillment is quite simple. All we need is to “watch” the PIG, APE, and the Ego very carefully so that our natural self, the big YOU, is able to shine through. By growing aware of how this inner mischief distorts and limits us, we naturally open up to a larger state of being — joyful, creative, fully present to life.

During the Holiday season, these unseen characters tend to surface in very interesting ways.

A gift from the PIG:

Something we like and want rather than what they like. Or a re-gift to get rid of something, and relish that you came out ahead.

A gift from the APE:

Giving something so that it won’t create an issue. Obligatory or check box gift.  “I gave a gift, they can’t complain.”

A gift from the EGO:

A gift that I think they ought to get or I ought to give them. Whether it is to make them think that I’m a big shot or I am a cool person. It’s more about how I want them to feel and think about me, rather than paying attention to their interests and needs.  Many times we buy a gift based on the social and economic status of the individual rather than seeing them as a human being.

A gift from the Big YOU:

The empathetic gift. The one that meets the human needs of the recipient such as love, concern, and true friendship. It also works for you and your pocket-book.  Such gifts tend to serve all of life.

Please take a moment to reflect on some of the best gifts you’ve received? What made them so special? Think of ways to empathize and give those kinds of gifts to people you care and love.

These ideas are based on the framework presented in my book “Beyond the PIG and the APE: Realizing Success and true Happiness.” If you’ve not had a chance to read it, please visit my website at to gain the essence of my book to see if you would like it. If you’ve already read my book, and have received some benefit, please consider giving it as a gift to someone you love and care.

Here’s a link to my Amazon page

For harmony in your life and our world,


“The Key to a better Life is to be Aware in the life we Live.”

For a recent review of my book, please read “The Pursuit of Happiness” by Olivia Mellan, a psychotherapist in the December issue of AdvisorOne.

Up Next: Which ball can you drop while juggling in life?