- On December 3, 2014
You know those cozy scenes on holiday cards–glowing fireplace, tree perfectly trimmed, presents elegantly wrapped and you, curled up in a big cozy chair sipping mulled cider (or wine!) with stockings hung by the chimney with care?
I see them and I think—get real! If I’m lucky, that calm scene maybe happens for 5 minutes…and definitely without the picture perfect tree and presents.
End-of-year deadlines at work… overlapping friends and family parties… school semesters ending… presents to choose….lines at the post office… food to make…lights to hang…. travels to plan (fingers crossed against some freak weather system).
What happened to the calm, warmth, and connection promised on that card?
What if there is one thing you could do RIGHT NOW to put the joy back in the season?
What is that one thing? Daily Gratitudes.
- One thing you are looking forward to at the beginning of each day.
- Three things you are grateful for at the end of each day.
No Cyber Monday special needed—it costs nothing. And it only takes 30 seconds.
My husband and I started daily gratitudes last year when I had a lot on my plate and lost all interest in finding anything “Merry” about Christmas. I put an old advent calendar on the counter as a daily reminder to cement this new practice into our schedule for the whole season.
Here are our rules:
The grateful part has to be about something external to you–and one of those things has to be about your spouse or other significant person in your life (you know, the ones we usually take for granted). Such as:
- I am grateful that the weather was so pleasantly warm for this time of year.
- I am grateful you changed your schedule so you could pick me up at the airport.
- I am grateful that Jim made the time to send that nice note about our teams’ work.
And in the morning:
- I look forward to talking with Karen about that new assessment.
- I look forward to wishing Tim a happy birthday at work.
Being grateful for the small moments in our lives, makes us feel good…and there’s good science behind it too.
By focusing on the future in the morning, your brain is now poised with anticipation that something good is going to happen. The Pre-Frontal Cortex is engaged towards something positive and is less likely to succumb to an Amygdala hijack so early in the day.
In the evening, you get to choose three positive highlights, prompting your mind to remember and generate pleasurable feelings. The act of creating rather than reacting activates your parasympathetic nervous system and produces ant-inflammatory hormones like oxytocin and the amino acid GABA, which produces a calming and healing effect on your body. (Crackly fire, cozy chair and mulled cider, anyone?)
The side effect is I am more aware of what happens during the day, mentally assessing each encounter for worthiness on my grateful list.
The ‘overwhelm’ becomes far less as I busy my mind with consciously uncovering little joys ever day—a great way to put the “happy” back in your holidays.