When I was little, the holidays were a great time for me and my immediate family, my core unit – the “Core 4” as I liked to call us. My parents were divorced, but the holidays always included Mom and Dad, and we all had our roles! Dad would pick out and deliver a fresh Christmas tree. Mom would cook delicious Thanksgiving and Christmas meals. My brother and I would open one present each on Christmas Eve. And most of my days were spent sitting next to the Christmas tree – gazing into the twinkling lights and sniffing the fresh pine!
Growing up, I could never figure out what made this time of year so special for me. As I’ve gotten older and experienced life more, I realize what it was – gratitude.
Now that I’m an adult, things have changed a bit. My dad is no longer with us. There’s sometimes an inkling of the holidays feeling incomplete without him, but that’s not the right spirit for me. Positivity, please! My mom is older and struggles with COPD, so the cooking responsibilities fall on me now. (Dang, I wish I would’ve paid more attention when I was younger!) And discovering that my live-in boyfriend is allergic to real pine — after countless sleepless nights of sneezing — means a faux tree with an evergreen candle is always on deck. Even with all that? I still get those warm and fuzzy feelings in the last three months of the year.
I’m more mindful now, so I can confidently say gratitude was what made me feel so good during the holidays. Not only am I grateful for the current holiday season, but I still reflect on those past ones that brought so much happiness to me. Realizing how good things have been and how good they continue to be (despite any sad or negative events happening along the way) makes this time of year so special. And that’s regardless of any craziness in my life or work. We always got some stuff going on, so it’s nice to stop and appreciate the good!
I make it a point to use this time of the year to reflect on all that’s happening in my world, in all areas of my life – relationships, work and business, health, spiritual, financial, and personal development. At least quarterly and definitely before a new year, I like to give myself 10-15 minutes to think about these things and to write down my thoughts and reflections. When I reflect, I don’t just focus on things that are going well. I also reflect on the opportunities – what did I not accomplish that I set out to do? Acknowledging there is always more work to be done makes the appreciation for what has been done that much sweeter.
Before, I never took the time to reflect because I never even thought to do it! It takes some time to wrap your head around the concept of mindfulness, but once you do, it’s game-changing! At the beginning of my mindfulness and reflection journey, I started by listing the basic things I was grateful for (my family, my job, my health, etc.). Then, I started listing the things I had accomplished that made me proud (starting my own business, reaching savings goals). From then on, it got easier to pinpoint what I was grateful for or what I wanted to improve in different areas of my life. My approach was to start small, and things expanded over time. Give it a try!
It’s easy to focus on where we want to be, where we thought we’d be, or where we could be, but focusing on how far we’ve come, how hard we’ve worked, and what we’ve learned along the way is what makes for great reflection. Being thankful for the journey thus far and being thankful for the journey ahead is the perfect way to move into another year.
I want to leave you with this: You can choose to be grateful. If you want to lead a positive life, gratitude is at the center. So, surround yourself with the people, places, and things that bring out those warm and fuzzy feelings. Get that Christmas tree set up and start gazing into those twinkling lights! Did you have a special soup every holiday season? Find it! Did you and your friends go Christmas-caroling every year? Get the old group together again!
My point is, to take it back to the things that made you feel good, inside and out, and remember to be grateful for them.
What do you plan to do this holiday season to tap into your gratitude?Leave a Comment