I’ve been happily filling out addresses on our Christmas cards while images of our past year flash and dance through my thoughts, and I can’t help but be grateful… blessed by all the friendships, both new and old, that sweeten our lives. I’m so grateful for the ones that have touched us, believed in us, helped us and encouraged us, whether they know it or not. And my prayer is that I can be that to someone… and encourager, a helper, a believer, a life-giver.
I truly feel that being grateful leads to joy, or maybe it’s the other way around. Either way, the two go hand in hand. So today I wanted to share a post that I’ve shared before, although never here, in this space, in it’s entirety. With the holiday swirling around us in full force, threatening to take our peace, joy and sanity, I think it’s a great time to think about how we can keep the peace, joy and sanity in our Christmas season.
Joy doesn’t have to be some unattainable fathom in our lives. Let it in little by little and you’ll realize it’s been there, waiting in the wings. Yes, we all will still go through things, struggles will arise, but joy doesn’t have to flee our grasp because negative circumstances throated our hold. Instead, we can learn to let her in. Learn how to befriend and invite joy into the everyday moments… Soon she won’t be such a guest but a dear old friend sharing in all of life with us.
Below are 5 tips for living joyfully and full of gratitude, no matter the season.
Give of yourself:
Now I know what you’re probably thinking… during the holiday season, we can feel strapped for time, and cash. We’re already making our lists and buying presents and possibly stressing about it. But I’m not referring to your list of gifts, and not necessarily saying you need a chunk of time. What I’m saying is, what makes you light up? What makes you happy when you share of yourself? Studies, over and over and over, have shown that the happiest people are generous, and raising a generous family starts with making a personal commitment to be generous.This can go into a long topic right here, so we’ll keep it short by saying to try and do something generous each day. A common misconception about a generous life is that giving needs to be material… but maybe it’s a smile and sincere hello to the cashier when you’re both overwhelmed. Maybe it’s a hot chocolate to the bell ringer on a cold day. Find something, and give. Give of yourself. You’ll feel that much better when you do.
Even when you don’t have a lot of start with, here are ways you can learn to embrace a habit of giving:
- Give time. This starts with your family and your friends. Be generous with your time with your children, and make it a point to think of activities that don’t require money or material things, and in turn your kids will learn to appreciate little things in life that can’t be bought with money. You do not have to spend a fortune to give everyone quality bonding moments. All you need is time, and the rest is up to your creativity. Take the time to help an elderly cross the stress, a stranger carry heavy grocery bags or finding volunteer opportunities (the holiday season is ripe with them!) to do as a family, together.
- Give love. Love means believing the best about a person. Love is giving someone the benefit of the doubt. How do we show love to those around us, and how do our children see us react to others around us? A smile is an act of love. A kind word is an act of love. Being patient with others who are different is love. How can you choose to show love today?
- Give out of abundance. What is it that pours out of our closets and bins? Stuff. We all have plenty of it. Make it a tradition to clean out closets and rooms and box up items for charity. Let your kids help box up items to give away and come alongside you to donate to a shelter, hospital or relief center… they will feel the blessing it is to give and help them to be grateful for all they have. Alternatively, you can foster resourcefulness and creativity by encouraging kids to create gifts from what you have instead of buying new ones. This also teaches them the value of giving with love.
- Give kindness. Never choose who you want to give to. A random act of kindness could be anything, and for anyone! Make it a family practice by encouraging others in this… show appreciation for every act of generosity that your kids make.
Remember what’s important:
We all know what really is important in life, and yet we all do it… Stress about a mess right before party guests arrive. Cry over burned cider and spilled dishes. Let that pile of to-do’s and deadlines rob us from a moment of happiness.
This season, try and take a moment when you feel those tensions rise, take in and let out a long, deep breath and in that moment of time remember what is really important. Certainly it’s not the cider. In that breath, anxiety will naturally lessen, and you’ll have the time you need to recenter and ground yourself.
Let it roll off:
It will happen. There will be a comment (taken out of context usually, but sometimes even in context) that will try to take up space in your mind and steal your joy, contentment and gratitude. Maybe there’s a family member who’s a pro at backwords compliments, now is the time to let it roll off. Of course, the opportunity will arise to be upset, embarrassed, let down… But take it back to our last step and remember what’s important.
Keep it real:
It may be the time to back away from social media, or at least allow yourself daily breaks from it, and see the beauty in the real world. I love to stay connected, but I know there are times to set it aside… Usually the times when I feel the pain of comparison rising. Some days, it’s better to look away from the filtered photos and the clean homes and the best dressed people, and instead make the conscious choice to enjoy the blessings that are right around us. This feat can be hard to do with the appearance of perfection at our fingertips. So if you’re drawn to social media during times of boredom, delete the apps from your phone and make sure you have a fun game or something else to keep you occupied during those times. And then? Smile and see your world through a new lens.
There’s always tomorrow:
When the day doesn’t go as planned and all the movie-picture scenes we had pictured in our mind don’t pan out, just remember, there’s always tomorrow. See each sunrise as a fresh start and let yourself, your passions and your plans begin anew. Give yourself a gift of the right amount of sleep and rest so you can face each day with a sense of excitement.
Today, let yourself unwrap the present of gratitude.
Our Christmas cards are from Minted and I LOVE them!! The quality is amazing, and we went with postcards this year… because stamps! There’s still time to get yours if you hurry!