With the holidays coming up faster than we may like, it would be great to create a habit of gratitude before we move headlong into the frenzy of that season. This month I offer some ideas on how to build on the peacefulness and simplicity that Thanksgiving represents – how to slow down and live deliberately. While it may seem too early to think about preparing for the holidays, if you get started now to prepare your mind, before the frenzy is upon you, you’ll have established a habit that will serve you well during the stressful holiday hoopla.
Make time for people. Recognize the power you have to affect the mood of the people who cross your path, and subsequently, the people who cross the path of each of those people. For example, while it may be tempting to roll your eyes and tap your foot impatiently as the person in front of you in the checkout line chats and laughs with the cashier, consider following their example to make time for people you might typically marginalize. A smile and kind word can go a long way to not only improve their day, but to make you feel good as well.
Notice nature. Many of us rush through our day hurrying here and there without even noticing our surroundings. Rather than pounding your steering wheel in frustration when traffic is crawling, use the slowdown as an opportunity to connect with nature: notice whatever trees, birds, or other plants or animals are nearby; enjoy the sunshine, moonlight, clouds or breeze that accompany you. Studies have shown there’s a positive relationship between exposure to nature and mental health, so take advantage of chances to experience it.
Make time for what you value. Rather than bouncing from task to task, be deliberate about how you spend your time so it aligns with what’s important to you. If you value time with family, find a way to spend more time each day with them. If you value a hobby or activity, figure out how you can clear some time to devote to it. Maybe you can delegate some tasks (e.g., cleaning house, doing yard work) that don’t feed your soul and that take away time from what you enjoy. Maybe you can find more efficient ways to do less-fulfilling tasks so you have more time for what you love.
Give the gift of yourself. Share your time, talent and/or treasure with a cause you believe in. Whether you serve on the front lines directly providing the services of the organization whose mission you support, serve that organization in a behind-the-scenes role, or support that organization financially, assisting others can help take your focus off your own worries and allow you to reflect on the blessings in your life.
My wish for you is that you can rejoice in the gifts you have and make the most of each day.