Let us first start this blog post by acknowledging that the holidays are not always the “best time of year” for everyone, despite all popular holiday music and the disposition of the Hallmark Channel.
Sometimes it is a stark reminder of loss, hardship, loneliness, anger, regret, or anxiety. Not everyone has a warm fire to sit by nor a cup of hot chocolate to sip. There might be an empty seat on the couch that once had a beautiful soul to occupy it or a new conflict that now fills the air with uncertainty.
What we do know, however, is that the holidays bring about reflection for everyone. It is in this time of reflection that we can choose to show ourselves self-compassion and look outward to share gratitude for the things we do have. Glass half full, always.
We think about the term gratitude and immediately go to simply feeling good about the things we have and where we are, but this doesn’t necessarily mean there is any action taken on those feelings.
Here are four simple ways to express some gratitude around the holidays, not only making someone else’s day but also helping you in the process (selfishly…unselfish).
Pay It Forward
One of my favorite ways to make someone’s day is to simply pay for the coffee of the next person in line. The best way to make yourself feel really good about this is to not let the person know it was you, even if that means you’ve already left the store. The karmic value of leaving that bit of positive energy behind is both motivating and invigorating.
Write A Letter
We receive enough texts and emails to drive ourselves crazy. Besides, what’s the last piece of mail you opened that you were actually stoked to receive? Amidst the bills, holiday catalogs, and bank mailers, receiving a handwritten letter is pretty special. They’ll know you took time out of your day to put pen to paper and think of them. The power of the pen is underrated.
Mind Your Manners
The next time you receive any type of “service”, from your waiter, barista, doorman, mailman, or even the next person to hold the door open for you, go over the top with your manners. “Thank you so much, I really appreciate you!” The butterfly effect of one act of kindness, especially as a standout from the usual hustle-bustle-I’m-too-busy-to-say-thank-you person, will change the mood of everyone involved. Stand out with kindness.
One of my favorite methods of all time. When you pass the next person you see walking down the street, smile HUGE at them. Show some teeth. Smiling might be even more contagious than yawning. The warmth you will feel from doing this will only be matched by the change in demeanor of the recipient. This will hold even more weight if you live in a big city. Look up, put your phone away while walking, and flash the biggest smile you’ve got (even if it’s tough).
Aim for one (or more) of these actions every day. The best day ever is built on action, and gratitude is a fundamental building block to its optimistic vision.