Tis the season for goodwill toward your fellow man and counting your blessings! The holidays are in full swing and we are called to be festive around the office and at home. Operation Secret Santa has launched, cards and decorations have descended upon desks and homes, and everyone is jubilant about family visits, holiday parties, and merry making.
Yet for some, festive is not a natural state of being and holiday glee is more akin to holiday chores: last minute shopping, frenzied cooking and cleaning, hosting the perfect party for your Stepford family and friends, decorating the house, dressing the tree, and all that wrapping! Not to mention the extra few pounds that will be hugging your waist as you try to find the perfect little black dress for New Year’s Eve. Feeling grateful in the midst of it all? Easier said than done for some!
But not to worry, here is the official guide to staying in the holiday spirit through the stress of gift giving, family strife, tree decorating (read: keeping the cat out of the tinsel and the pine needles off the floor), party throwing, your kids’ never-ending Santa lists, ugly Christmas sweaters, post office backup, school vacation, food comas, and mall parking lot brawls.
How to turn your Gripes into Gratitude
- It could always be worse.
Perspective is vital to many areas of Life. For those who always see the glass of eggnog half empty, a little pivoting of perspective can help build the habit of viewing life with thankfulness. And just as with a muscle, the more you flex and tone your ability to see things through grateful eyes, the stronger your gratitude grows. For instance, when you draw your marketing boss’ name in the gift exchange and your natural reaction is for your stomach to tie in knots, sit back and brainstorm on why this is a blessing, and not a potential for a giant career misstep (you get chocolate and he’s allergic, or you give a gift certificate to a steakhouse and she’s a card-carrying PETA member). For example: It can be a convenient opportunity to get in good with the boss’ executive assistance, and we all know that the admin holds the key to access, and thus influence. Approach your boss’ right hand discretely, admitting that you are shopping for the Head Cheese and would love to know if he or she has a favorite candy, a preferred wine or a Starbucks addiction. You can bond over your shared secret and use it to form a powerful connection that will serve you well the next time you want to schedule a meeting. Perspective is powerful and looking past the clouds to the silver living opens up a world of opportunities you will miss if you aren’t in the right frame of mind.
2. Help those in Need.
There’s no better way realize your blessings than to be around those that have none. Your good fortune is glaringly apparent when you come face to face with true hardship and tragedy. It will be difficult to bemoan all the preparation, work and clean-up of a large Thanksgiving Dinner if you spend a couple of hours serving meals to families that do not have an oven, cannot purchase groceries, and have no table around which to gather with their loved ones. It’s less satisfying to sneer at the unruly mall crowds and complain about your lengthy shopping list when you spend a few hours delivering winter coats and shoes to those for whom the gift of a jacket or rain coat is more than they can expect to receive all winter long.
3. Take 10 minutes a day to reflect on positive things, people and experiences in your Life.
It’s easy to be hyper-focused on the additional errands and expense of the holidays as we’re running around trying to accomplish everything while our time and funds are being stretched to their limits. In fact it’s so easy to feel overwhelmed and over budget that we have to remind ourselves to take a breather and pull back to look at the bigger picture. Remember why we are entertaining our out of town family? We miss having them around like when we were growing up, and we want to catch up with the younger generations as they pass through birthday parties, graduations, and Justin Beiber infatuations. If we focus on the good that Life is bringing us, we can avoid falling into the trap of holiday stress.
The holidays are a wonderful time to create lasting memories with friends and family. Don’t become so wrapped up (pardon the pun) in the desire to purchase the perfect gift or cook a flawless bird that the joyful times pass you by. Stockings, pumpkin pie, and tree ornaments come and go with the holiday season, but love and gratitude can live in your heart all year long.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and your loved ones! As I count my blessings, here are a few of my favorite things:
What are you grateful for this year?