Does Christmas herald a time of appreciation and reflection for what you do have? Or anger and resentment about what you don't have? Here are 5 tips to ensure the greatest gift you give - and receive - this festive season is that of gratitude.
1. Make Fun For You
If you enter December feeling great pressure to get the right presents and prepare an event to rival all other Christmas Days, you are not alone. Often, we are so wound up catering for others we forget to be grateful for ourselves. So, don’t just dote on the kids this Christmas Day, instead, ensure there is a slice of the day – or some space in the lead up to it – for you. Ask yourself 'what do I need to do to make this season fun for me?' It may be something small like getting a manicure mid-shopping marathon or writing your own gift wish list, so your kids don't make do with a cookbook - again. Create your personal playlist for your Christmas lunch, schedule in a walk by yourself after the gift giving while the kids play with their new toys, outsource some of the cooking to family and friends if you are hosting lunch at your place or simply roster the kids on to do the cleaning up afterwards. Small amendments like this may be all it takes to make you feel more appreciated.
2. Ask and Listen
Sometimes getting too much airtime on Christmas Day can lead to a whole lot of whining about how much you've done in the lead up to the day and what a hassle it all was. Zip it! Turn the tables and ask the questions and listen to the answers. It sounds so simple, but often we can get so wound up in ourselves, we zone out on conversations. So Christmas is the perfect time to put your listening skills into play. You may come into contact with family and friends you haven’t seen all year, so ask them about themselves, and listen. Don’t interrupt. This way, you can open up new conversations, take the onus off anything you are unhappy about.
3. Look Ahead, Not Back
Christmas and the end of the year is a great time for personal reflection – and criticism. But don't focus on the end of the year and what you have - or haven't - achieved. Think of it this way; Christmas use to be a holiday devoted to coming out of the deprivation of winter into the possibilities of Spring, so what if you looked at it as giving you the gift of possibilities for the future rather than some 'deadline'? This Christmas season gives yourself the gift of gratitude for you, rather than seeing each year as a 'checklist'. Don't see things in your life as good, bad, right, wrong or 'how they should or shouldn't be' – especially if you are drawing comparisons via social media. Let Christmas be about future possibilities rather than past setbacks.
4. Just Be Grateful
Write down a list of five people you are grateful for and five things you are grateful for to keep with you and reflect on during the Christmas period – and when you go back to work, reality or leave the family after time together. Revisit this note throughout the year as a reminder to call or write to those you love all year so that Christmas doesn't herald a period of panicked appreciation.
5. Ask For Things From Yourself
Write down the projections, expectations, separations and judgments that your family and friends may have of you leading into Christmas. When you see it in writing, you can often see how minuscule a long-held gripe or disgruntlement is - and how easy it is to cross out - in order to create cohesion at Christmas and start afresh.