Bring the gift of gratitude to your festivities

By this point, your holiday preparations are hopefully almost done. Maybe a few last minute purchases and finishing touches to make.

With the bulk of the errands, tasks and big chores complete, now might the time to think about the actual experiences you will have with your family, friends and loved ones.

How do you want your interactions to feel? What quality would you like to embrace when you’re together? What tone would you like set?

For me, it’s all about gratitude this year. Gratitude is like the star or angel on top of the tree. The lighting of a candle. The filling of the stocking.

Without it, things feel unfinished, empty, hollow or superficial.

Gratitude brings the meaning. It’s the reason for the season.

You work so hard all year long, barely pausing to reflect on your accomplishments and achievements before moving onto the next thing.

The holidays are the perfect time to take this pause. To look back over the year in recognition of everything you are grateful for.

Instead of getting so wrapped up in the commercialism, indulgence, extravagance and materialism, this year I invite you to take note, acknowledge, recognize and appreciate the abundance in your life.

Sources of Gratitude

When reflecting on what you are grateful for, look to these sources of gratitude:

People: Who are you thankful for this year? Who made a difference? Who is always there to be counted on? Who did something extra special? Who did you meet or reconnect with?

Experiences: What happened this year? What experiences had an impact? Was there a memorable trip? What about an interesting opportunity?

Life Lessons: Did you have a meaningful learning this year? A milestone, a turning or a tipping point? Did something shift in a very deep and meaningful way? What light bulbs went off for you?

Gifts or Talents: What are your innate abilities, qualities and skills you are thankful for? Find gratitude for your brilliance, gifts, talents, artistry and expertise.

Rewards: What are the rewards you’ve reaped in your life? Be thankful for the fruits of your labour. The abundance, the perks, the bounty, the presents and the trimmings.

Ways to Express Gratitude

Here are a few ideas on how you might convey your gratitude:

In your Journal: Get our your journal and reflect back over the year. Make note of the areas of your life you are grateful for.

In a Greeting Card: Make your holiday greeting even more special this year with a message of gratitude.

In Person: Tell someone directly, face-to-face, how grateful you are for them and what they’ve done for you this year. So powerful.

At the Dinner Table: To bring more meaning to that special meal, invite everyone to share 1-3 things they are grateful for.

In a Gratitude Jar: I’ve been wanting to start this tradition for a couple years. On Jan 1, start writing down, on slips of paper, things throughout the year you are grateful for and place them in a jar. On New Year’s eve or day next year, create a special gratitude ritual by reading the slips of paper and embracing the abundance in your life.

I hope these ideas and suggestions will help you create a meaningful, gratitude-filled holiday this year.

I am truly thankful for each of you who read this column, write to me with comments, and use the information I share to make health shifts in your own life.

This post first appeared here in the Halifax Citizen on Dec 22. 2015.

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