The holiday season has become a hectic and stressful time of year for us all. We tend to get caught up in the deals and savings of shopping, the details of party planning, and the frustrations of travel arrangements. But in the end, what does it all mean? Rather than allow the season to take a negative toll on your energy and holiday spirit, take a moment to reflect and let gratitude be your guide through the holidays.
According to an article written by psychotherapist and Forbes contributor, Amy Morin, "gratitude may be one of the most overlooked tools that we all have access to every day. Cultivating gratitude doesn’t cost any money and it certainly doesn’t take much time, but the benefits are enormous." (7 Scientifically Proven Benefits Of Gratitude, 2014). If gratitude is so cheap and easy, then why do we regularly forget about its powerful benefits?
When the hustle and bustle of the holidays gets you down, don’t forget to show a little appreciation. Here are FIVE ways that you can incorporate gratitude into your holiday season this year:
Take time to call a long-lost friend, family member, co-worker, professor, or coach. Tell them why they matter and be honest of the influence they have had on your life. We often forget how significant our impact can be on those around us. We have all had that special person in our lives that has helped shape us and guide our path. There is no better way to celebrate the season of thankfulness and giving than to share your appreication with those who helped you grow. You never know if your call may be the "pick me up" that person desperatly needed. Don’t text... Actually take the time to pick up the phone and call!
CHALLENGE: Make THREE phone calls to three different people whom you have been meaning to catch up with. Take a second to slow down your day and commit to catching up!
2. Small/Random Acts of Kindness
There is incredible value in small acts of kindness. It is something that is completely under rated and can have a significant impact on someone’s day, or maybe even their life. Thoughtful actions are often more valuable than big gifts. Use this season to give small, more sentimental gifts. Try to dig deep and find things that evoke good memories, positive feelings, and remind those around you that life is made up of the smaller moments and actions.
CHALLENGE: Attempt TWO small acts of kindness every day for one week.
(Ex. Hold the door open for someone, Give compliments, Pay for someone’s coffee...)
BONUS POINTS: If the act of kindness is directed towards a stranger!
3. Say Thank You!
Two words. Eight Letters. Yet, they have the ability to leave a lasting impression. From a young age we are taught to say, “please” and “thank you”, but do we actually mean it when we say it? When you say thank you, is there an intentional sentiment behind those words? Next time you are out shopping and the cashier is struggling to ring up your purchase, don’t get frustrated with them. Instead, take a deep breath and reassure them that you are thankful for their time and energy. Why add unnecessary stress to the holiday rush? Because when we break it down… what is the actual rush? Appreciation is key to a meaningful thank you!
CHALLENGE: Spend an entire day giving MEANINGFUL thank you’s to those around you. Really consider what they have done for you and let them know WHY you are grateful. Count how many of these true “thank you’s” you were able to say.
4. Send Mail
This time of year is full of people sending greeting cards with family pictures. In addition or replacement to those messages, send handwritten notes to friends and family. Handwritten notes take time and dedication, but they also show people that they are special and you are grateful for them. When we give thanks verbally or informally, it is often acknowledged but not truly understood. However, when you take time to write down those sentiments and genuinly share your admiration, it carries much more wieght and has the ability to last a lifetime.
CHALLENGE: Sit down and send THREE, heartfelt, handwritten letters before the new year.
5. Value Quality Time
When family is in town for the holidays, stress tends to take over. We get so caught up in making sure everything is perfect, that we forget to value the moments that are right in front of us. Take a mental snapshot of your family around the table and commit it to memory. If something goes horribly wrong, choose laughter, “brush it off” and grow from the experience. After all, those are the memories that last a lifetime!
CHALLENGE: Start a NEW family tradition. Big or small, make a new tradition that is fun for the whole family. If you have kids, encourage them to come up with their own traditions. Get creative and make these traditions ones you can continue from year to year. Repeat this every year to build a fun variety of traditions over the years.
In the midst of this holiday season and throughout the rest of the year, find joy in celebrating others and show gratitude to those whom have had a significant impact on you. Remember, no act of kindness is too big or too small.
Will you accept our Gratitude Challenge? Tweet your completed challenges to @howuleadmatters.
From everyone here at Strive: How You Lead Matters, we wish you a Happy Holidays!
Morin, A. (2014, November 23). 7 Scientifically Proven Benefits Of Gratitude That Will Motivate You To Give Thanks Year-Round. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/amymorin/2014/11/23/7-scientifically-proven-benefits-of-gratitude-that-will-motivate-you-to-give-thanks-year-round/#63056307183c