Being so close to our winter holidays, I’ve decided today to diverge from my usual financial topics to write about something closer to the heart: gratitude and kindness.
The holiday season tends to fly by in a rush each year, and then suddenly, before you can say “hot cocoa”, the holidays are here. Traditions and holiday moments can slow things down a bit, and so can moments of gratitude and kindness to friends and strangers. But overall, the holiday season moves too quickly and in a flash, the winter doldrums takes its place.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Well, I mean the holiday season will still fly by, but once the holidays have passed doesn’t mean we need to let go of the joy. In fact, I’d highly recommend you take advantage of that age-old tradition of making new years resolutions (except replace resolutions with goals) to make sure that the rest of the year is as merry and bright.
“Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” – Melody Beattie
We are never as rich and wealthy as we are when we feel grateful for the things we already have. But it’s easier to take them for granted, especially when we see all around us the message of consumerism and more, more, more! And so our gratitude tends to be limited to Thanksgiving, the winter holiday season, and the occasional lightbulb moment when we see how much more we have than so many others.
I’m suggesting that you take that gratitude and make it last much longer, like when the oil in the temple unexpectedly lasted 8 nights (a.k.a. the miracle of Hanukkah). Find ways to stay conscious of all that you have and hold dear. Tell the people in your life how much they mean, and tell them often. Make a point of counting your blessings frequently.
“A little thought and a little kindness are often worth more than a great deal of money.” – John Ruskin
When you choose to act out of kindness, whether it’s toward your family or friend, neighbor or stranger, a remarkable thing happens. Not only do they feel better, but so do you. It’s the ultimate “win-win” situation and one of the best gifts you can give.
Of course there are small everyday kindnesses, like carrying some groceries, and ongoing kindness like volunteering at a charity. Challenge yourself to give more of both kinds this year. One of the most difficult kindnesses is to forgive someone. But if you can do it, I think you will find that it benefits you as much as the person you forgive.
“Rest and self-care are so important. When you take time to replenish your spirit, it allows you to serve others from the overflow. You cannot serve from an empty vessel.” – Eleanor Brownn
Finally, during the hustle and bustle of the season, and throughout the whole year, we must take care of ourselves in order to be able to feel the gratitude and give kindness. When we’re stressed and frazzled, it’s more difficult to see that our problems may be small compared to many in the world and that we still have so much. So get enough sleep, eat well, exercise, and take a break when you need one. Don’t hustle so hard that you don’t have time for yourself and the ones you love.
These are my holiday thoughts for you: stay grateful, be kind, take care of yourself, and don’t save it for the holidays, do it all year long!
Wishing you happy holidays, whatever you may celebrate…Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah!