Listen, I know it’s complicated. The holiday season is filled with more of everything – activities, food and shopping and traffic and bills – and that adds to everyone’s stress. If we celebrate we are stressed trying to manage all the extras. And if we don’t or can’t celebrate the way we’d like, we feel left out or as thought we aren’t doing enough.
What if, instead of letting seasonal expectations get you down, you decided to focus on gratitude this year? Not just feeling it, but giving it. What if you gave kindness to everyone you come in contact with and gave them something to be grateful for? That’s one way to make the season brighter for everyone – including yourself.
Six Ways to Give Gratitude
- Smile (now don’t be sarcastic about it) at the grouches among us. Wave at the guy who cuts you off on the highway or the curmudgeon in the parking lot or the impatient checker at the store. Assume they are good people who are just stressed out too. Be kind and let go.
- Surprise someone for no reason. You know the friend loves those special chocolate turtle thingies? Get a couple and drop them off for her at work. Take flowers to the school receptionist. Write a note of appreciation to the vet. Do something special for no reason at all.
- Drop off dinner. Know a single parent, a struggling neighbor, a working mom or someone else who is exhausted trying to keep up? One night drop dinner by. It’s easy to make a little extra when you put your own meal together and everyone I know would appreciate a homemade meal that they didn’t have to cook. The food and the gesture will uplift anyone during a difficult time.
- Go out of your way to say thank you. The people up the street from us are all decked out with holiday lights and we love looking at them each year. Last year, when we were driving by, we saw the couple outside and stopped to thank them for their effort. When we left, we were all smiling.
- Comment on the good stuff. A couple of weeks ago I had excellent customer service at JCPenney. One woman took extra steps to make my life easier and better and she actually saved me money in the process. It took a lot of extra effort on her part. She had to step out the traditional service model to make it work. But she did it. And I told her how appreciative I was and even shared the story with her manager. We are often so quick to complain about the bad stuff or things that we don’t like But, how often do you take the time to voice the good stuff, the great stuff, good people doing excellent things? Now is the time. Call people out for the good things that they do. Praise someone who is “just doing their job” but doing it well. It’s not going to make anyone soft or entitled. Instead, it will make them better. We all could use a little more appreciation and less criticism in this world.
- Send a note. There are so many people doing good things in the world that make our lives easier. You may not know them – the school crossing guard, or the receptionist at the dentist or the barista down the street. But because of their efforts, your life is easier. Send them a thank you note. Or send a handwritten letter to the friend on Facebook who is struggling. Or drop a card by a senior home for a person who rarely gets mail. The process of handwriting a note is actually healing and can even lower your stress. And imagine how good the person who receives your note will feel. Simple gesture. Big impact.
In this world, we rarely interact face to face anymore. We text and tweet, but ultimately the greatest gift you can give is the gift of kindness and connection. When we reach out to acknowledge another through kindness we bridge loneliness with love and give the gift of gratitude. And you know what? It only leaves you feeling more grateful too.