When the holidays roll around each year, we tend to focus on the things we don’t have. But can you blame us? Everywhere we turn, we are bombarded by the new must-haves of the season, prompting us to create never ending lists of all that stuff we think we want.
The good news is, we can choose to ignore the pressure to want more, spend more, have more, and begin the holiday season with a whole new outlook, one that can change our lives for the better.
Sound drastic? What if I told you it was as simple as letting yourself feel grateful for what you do have? That’s right, gratitude is one of the most powerful emotions you can experience—and letting yourself truly feel it can be life changing.
Start by acknowledging the small things that bring you feelings of happiness and joy—that’s gratitude. But can something so simple really change your life for the better? The answer is yes!
Gratitude manifests abundance
“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” -Oprah Winfrey
As we make our wish lists for Santa, we end up taking for granted what we already have. And if we are always focused on what’s missing in life, we will never be satisfied.
The next time you feel the need to go out and buy yourself a new pair of jeans or grab the latest electronic device, try not to give in to temptation right away. Instead, get yourself a pen and paper, go through your closets, and jot down a list of all those things you own that aren’t all that different from the newly desired item. You might come across old favourites you forgot you had, or you may simply realize you have quite a lot of stuff! And with these new discoveries, you might notice you’re suddenly feeling rather grateful…
Gratitude increases happiness
“Happiness is itself a kind of gratitude.” -Joseph Wood Krutch
Unfortunately for some, sadness or anxiety can increase around the holidays. But if we take a few moments out of our day to look at all of the positive things that surround us—no matter how big or small—we can’t help but experience joy.
Why not grab your smartphone and start snapping shots of things you are grateful for, like the home you grew up in, your favourite holiday meal, your grandmother or that perfect cup of coffee? On days that you find yourself in a funk, browse through your photos and consider creating an album of all the things and people you are grateful for. It will be hard to keep a smile from your face after that!
Gratitude allows you to be present in the moment
“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” -Albert Einstein
Life is short. Rather than rushing to check off the next thing on your ‘to do’ list, convincing yourself “I’ll be happy when…,” or counting down the days until Christmas is over, try living in the moment instead.
The best way to stay present is to focus on your breathing. Taking deep breaths will help clear your mind of any distracting “clutter.” So take a deep breath, look at what’s going on around you—right now—and take it all in. Another tip is to turn all technology off for at least 1 hour each day. Read a good old-fashioned book, play with your kids, or go for a long walk and leave your phone at home.
Gratitude is the most direct path to success
“People who approach life with a sense of gratitude are constantly aware of what’s wonderful in their life. Because they enjoy the fruits of their successes, they seek out more success. And when things don’t go as planned, people who are grateful can put failure into perspective.” -Geoffrey James
When a stressful event (like the holidays!) is coming up, make a habit of focusing on the positive. For example, moving into a new home is considered one of the 5 most stressful things in life. But if you choose to focus on the idea of relaxing in your cozy new home, rather than how irritating it is to pack your stuff into all those boxes, you’ll soon be feeling more grateful than upset.
Same goes for failures. Remind yourself that nobody gets through life without a few failed attempts. Instead of obsessing over a mistake, chalk it up as another life lesson. When you think of it that way, you can let yourself feel grateful to have learned from the experience. (It’s free education, after all!)
Ready to start feeling some real gratitude this holiday season? Try this: From now until the end of the year, keep a notepad by your bed and write down one thing you are grateful for each night. I promise, this simple act will shift your life in a beautiful way, leaving you happier and more fulfilled in the long run.