5 Decisions To Help You Be More Grateful This Holiday Season.
If this is the most wonderful time of the year, then why are there so many stressed out Scrooges rushing through the holiday season? On Thursday November 27 Americans proclaimed many thanks for all their blessings all over Facebook and then on Friday November 28 they hit the streets & web to spend money they don’t have on things they don’t need. This of course is not true for everyone, but for many, this is a cycle that repeats itself every year and leaves us broke and exhausted by January 1. This year, Americans spent a whopping $42.5 billion dollars in the first 44 days of “the holiday shopping season”… on the internet alone! That doesn’t even consider the billions spent in stores! Between costs, commitments and expectations… many people are not able to truly be grateful and enjoy this special time of year.
For the past decade, I have had the added stress of flying from sunny San Diego to freezing Boston every year, and then doing “the Christmas shuffle” between my husband’s family on the North Shore and my split family in Central MA. Shopping has been rushed, visits have been short and my energy has been low. Over the past few years, I have come to realize that I was taking on too much and as a result was not embodying my usual attitude of gratitude. The race to accomplish too much landed me sick every New Years Day. I finally started making choices to ensure that I keep my positive attitude, am present in each moment and spend less money on presents. Here are the 5 decisions I have made to keep the attitude of gratitude during the holidays and throughout the whole year:
- When In Doubt, Choose You. Let’s face it, there is a holiday event that you kind of dread, yet still always attend. Whether it is your office holiday party, an old friend’s Christmas Eve open house, or a traditional lunch date… if there is something that you really don’t want to do, don’t do it. We run ourselves thin year round and the stress caused by the holiday season can take a serious toll on your attitude and energy. When faced with a hectic schedule, dwindling budget and an overwhelming to-do list you have to set priorities and stick to them. You can’t give your all to everyone, but you can make decisions that will conserve your energy for the people that matter most to you. When you are hemming and hawing over your RSVP to an event that you know you should probably decline in order to keep your schedule manageable and allow for proper rest…. CHOOSE YOU. You might feel bad to miss out on a fun event, but you will have energy to enjoy the events and tasks that you have made a priority and will feel grateful and embody the attitude of gratitude. Your outlook and vibe will help make you and everyone you spend your time with have a happy holiday. You can’t have the attitude of gratitude when you are doing things you don’t want to do
- Give Yourself a Break, and Do The Same For Others, Too! It can be super fun to surf through Pinterest boards, and maybe you will finally hand make your gifts this Christmas. Seriously, you are not Martha Stewart and you have a life full of commitments and responsibilities. If you don’t get to infuse olive oils and make hand written holiday cards, give yourself a break. While you are at it, cut some slack for the people around you. Keep in mind that the tired cashier that can’t find a tag on a t-shirt could likely be working a seasonal second job to provide Christmas for her kids. Christmas in America is so commercialized that people feel compelled to spend too much money and squeeze in too much stuff. Focus on the people and traditions that you love and keep it simple. Don’t ruin your Christmas week by taking on too many projects. Let your Aunt know that it is O.K. that she forgot that you are vegetarian and included a layer of meat in every dish at your family’s Christmas dinner. Eat dessert and give us all a break… and be grateful that your Mom makes a fantastic apple pie.
- Don’t Take it Day by Day, Enjoy Every Moment. Do you ever rush through your day so quickly and then realize you didn’t eat and the sun has gone down? Balancing work, family, school, finances, projects and everything else can make you live and die by your calendar. People say to “take it day by day” when you are overwhelmed but I urge you to go deeper. Moving from one task to the next, without enjoying the experiences in between creates a detached way of life. Keeping to-do lists and working with a calendar is absolutely necessary, but don’t overbook yourself and take time to talk to all the people you meet. Say “Hello” to the person that makes your latte or the man in the elevator. Share a happy thought… heck, just say “Happy Holidays”! Your mood will absolutely improve when you take time to greet everyone you meet. When challenged with a long line and forced to wait, take a moment to practice a little pranayama (breathing exercises) to help calm your nerves and relax. If you are compelled to do so, bust out your smartphone to check your Facebook…but at least do it with a smile! Be grateful that life has forced you to slow down for a minute, and enjoy that minute for yourself.
- Surround Yourself With Love and Tell People You Love Them. As we grow older, and our children grow older, and our parents grow older… things change. As generations move on, people get married, and babies are born, your “family” and “holiday traditions” will change. Christmas can be the hardest time of year for people who have lost loved ones. We can find ourselves feeling lonely when life takes a turn and the people that you once celebrated with are no longer here. Change is the only constant in the world, and you have to embrace it and accept that your traditions of past are now cherished memories. When you accept change, you can feel grateful for the past and enjoy your new experiences. You must surround yourself with the people you love and tell people you love them. Life is too short to hold grudges, or be “too busy” or “too broke” to be home for the holidays… and home is with the people you love. Just do it. You will be grateful.
- Focus On Giving People Your Time & Energy and Less on Giving Gifts. The value we place on our time increases as the years pass by ever so quickly. Your presence, your conversation, and your heartfelt holiday card… these are what matter most to your Grandparents, right? They have lived long enough to know that “things” come and go, but unforgettable experiences create memories that last a lifetime. Don’t get me wrong, if someone you love is really in need of something, and you are able to gift that something to them without putting yourself in a bad situation, by all means do it! Don’t feel like you need to buy gifts for all your family and friends, especially if you don’t have disposable cash! The extreme gift giving in America and the expectations we set for ourselves (that are drilled in by media and society) are simply unrealistic and unsustainable. None the less, if you are able to spend some cash on a gift … why not make it an experience? Why don’t you buy a gift card to take your Godson bowling or take your nieces to Sky Zone to go “jumping”. Give them more of your time and less of your money. You will be grateful and will make more memories and create less debt.
After all, Christmas is a celebration of love. Love has no physical shape, it is not defined by dollars, and it is the most abundant thing in the universe. My tips may sound selfish to some, but I know that to live in love and love others, you must first love yourself. To embody the attitude of gratitude simply love the gift of life, this one precious life with which you are blessed. Love every minute, every single minute. In every moment, you are either moving towards love or away from love. If you choose love, you will have the attitude of gratitude each and every day.
Casandra Leah is a travel addict, do-gooder and aspiring mermaid. This blog is brand spanking new and I thank you for reading it! This website will be wicked awesome, come back again soon.