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Five Ways to Nurture Gratitude This Holiday SeasonSubmitted by Flourish Wealth Management on November 8th, 2018
By: Kathy Longo, CFP®, CAP®, CDFA
A quick guide for spending with intent, being present and having meaningful conversations with those you love.
It feels like the period of thankfulness and thoughtfulness brought on by a Thanksgiving feast is getting shorter every year. Black Friday looms large, ready to bombard us with shopping and deals. Consumption once again saddles in and takes precedence. In 2017, on Thanksgiving Day, online revenue grew by 28%. [i] If you are feeling a bit overwhelmed at the thought of another year of maxing out credit cards and rushing into the bargain-hunting fray to fight it out for the perfect gift item that no one really needs, then read on. For those who want a little more thankfulness and thoughtfulness this holiday season, I will discuss five ways to promote and nurture gratitude through the holidays and beyond.
Practice Daily Gratitude
Gratitude is defined by the dictionary as: the state of being grateful; Thankfulness.[ii] Practicing gratitude regularly has been shown to have positive effects overall, helping you to become more patient and make more sensible choices. Being grateful in life can help with issues like sleeplessness, overeating, and depression.[iii] Sound too good to be true? Maybe not. Taking the time to smell the roses, to reflect on the good things and good people in your life, and to appreciate all that you have--while focusing less on what you don’t--can change your overall attitude. Practice little acts of thankfulness, even just thinking about the people you love and who love you. Appreciating opportunities or moments of kindness that you’ve experienced and paying them forward in your own life may help change your overall outlook.
Related Article: Philanthropy and Giving in Your Family Legacy
Putting your life and needs into perspective is also a good way to step back and appreciate all that you have. The majority of the world’s population lives on less than $2 a day and the majority of global poor are under 18 years of age..[iv] In the US, 21% of all children, roughly 1 in 5, live in poverty.[v] These numbers are not here to depress or make you feel guilty for preparing for the holiday season. Instead, they illustrate how needs and wants are very different things for many people. Practicing gratitude for all your blessings can also mean allowing space and generosity for people who are in need. Teaching kindness and empathy to the younger generations in your family, volunteering, and helping in your community may create lasting memories and values far more impactful than a new toy or gadget. And besides that, generosity is good for you because helping other people makes us feel good emotionally and physically.[vi]
A New Holiday List
Before you and your family start writing your gift lists, take a moment and have everyone write a list of what they are most grateful for. Health, friendship, family, etc. The time taken to reflect on the good things that you have or that have happened to you in the last year can help bring a fresh perspective. It’s easy to think of all the things you want, but it’s a harder and more valuable exercise to focus on what you already have. Making a thankful list before making a gift list may help transform some of the basic desire for “stuff” into something more meaningful.
Related Article: The Benefit of Giving Thanks
Change Your Story
As Gandhi said: “You must be the change you want to see in the world.” The act of being thankful and reflective inevitably comes with the flipside: seeing those who don’t have health and good luck on their side. Changing the holiday attitude from one of stressful holiday parties and extravagant unneeded gifts, into something more meaningful for others, may be a good tactic. There is so much need out there, that it can be overwhelming, so start small. Everyone has a passion. If you love animals, for example, perhaps this holiday season is the perfect time to donate your time or money to your local animal shelter or rescue. If you feel strongly about the environment, joining a conservation organization or educating the community on recycling and sustainability may be fulfilling. Volunteer at a hospital, aid in cleaning-up a homeless shelter, or organize a coat or food drive. Teaching your family to not only care about issues but involve themselves in making changes is a wonderful and priceless gift.
Simplifying gift giving for your children and family will cut back on the stress, hassle and cost of elaborate holiday seasons. A tried and true example would be adopting the Need/Want/Wear/Read style of gifting. Everyone receives four gifts, one item they need, be it a computer for school, a pair of shoes they grew out of etc. Then an item they want, one coveted toy, video game etc. They also receive an item to wear and a book to read. We tend to overspend around the holidays to show our love.[vii] The pile under the tree becomes a symbol, but that’s not the best attitude to take. Instead, spend time on activities and building memories over things. Things are forgotten whereas traditions and experiences last much longer.
Before the holiday season, have the entire family sort through old clothes, coats, shoes, books, and toys and donate them to worthwhile charities. This practice of making space for new items while helping others is a good lesson which can also help with clutter in your home. Adopting a family for the holidays, purchasing new clothes and toys for children in need, helping local charities and donating toward local programs is an invaluable tradition to pass down to your family. Being grateful for all that you have while making the holiday season better for others is a wonderful way to counteract the stress of the season.
Related Article: Helping Children Become Financially Responsible Adults
Best Gift You Give Yourself
Practicing gratitude, not only during the holidays, but all year round is a wonderful way to slow down and savor all the little gifts of kindness and goodness we experience along the way. Life is so often busy, messy and hard. Money, stress, kids, family, and work can all stack up on the shoulders and weigh us down. But practicing thankfulness and allotting time to be grateful lightens that load. When the holidays hit peak stress, knowing that you have told all those you love that you appreciate everything they do can ease your anxiety. When you see the world as one that needs you, when you impart the wisdom of kindness and charity to your children and know they will carry that on, suddenly the world is larger than a big dinner and a bunch of uncashed gift cards. Finding the space to make memories and experiences, to be thoughtful and thankful, and to give a reason for the season, is the best gift you could give yourself.