Archive for December 2008

The Greatest Gift We Can Give

December 18, 2008

With the holiday season now in full swing, it’s easy for us to get caught up in the stress of getting everything on our “list” crossed off, preparing for parties and events, and rushing around to buy gifts. And, with money tight for some this year, there’s added stress for many of us as we think about what to get for our family members, friends, co-workers, and others.

Instead of just giving “stuff” for the holidays, what if we gave the people in our life the best gift of all; our appreciation? Let the people around you know why you appreciate them. What do you value about your best friend? What is it about your kids that you really appreciate? What do you love most about your spouse? How does your co-worker or your boss make your job easier and more fun.

This year, our holiday gifts can be expressions of true appreciation which will have real impact on our relationships and make our holiday season one to remember. As we know, greater appreciation leads to improved communication, less stress, and more overall fulfillment.

And, with things the way they are financially for many people these days, taking time to appreciate others and life is so important this year.

Here are three simple suggestions to make your holiday gifts and your holiday season special:


  • In addition to (or instead of) giving gifts, take time to write heartfelt thank you cards. Write cards letting the people around you know what you appreciate about them and how they have impacted your life in a positive way.
  • Ask people what they really want. Giving something specific that someone really wants will have them feel appreciated and valued. It doesn’t have to be expensive, as long as it’s personal to them. And, if you ask them directly you may find out that what they really want is something simple that can’t be bought or doesn’t cost money.
  • Give the gift of your time or service – Make a list of a few important people in your life and instead of buying them something, call and ask each them if there is some project they’ve been putting off or procrastinating that you might be able to help them with. Schedule time to come over to their house or support them specifically in getting that task or project accomplished.

Remember what most people want, more than anything else, is to know that they are loved, valued, and appreciated…that’s the best gift we can give to them – for the holidays and at any time of the year. Enjoy these next few weeks. Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!

How will you appreciate others during this holiday season?

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Appreciating the Holidays

December 4, 2008

If you’re anything like me you probably have somewhat of a love/hate relationship with the holidays. I love the excitement, parties, decorations, rituals, music, gifts, and more. However, even these things can wear on me. And, the stress, drama, consumption, obligation, and more that often come along with this time of year are not on my list of “favorite things.”

In addition, I often feel like I’m not doing enough, not on top of my “list,” and I worry that I won’t get everything done in time to make the people in my life happy the way I want to. Can you relate?

This year, especially with all that’s going on around us in the economy and the world, what if we each made a commitment to appreciate the holiday season, have fun, and enjoy the whole experience – regardless of our circumstances or any external pressure we may feel? Appreciating the holiday season, as with anything in life, will make it much more enjoyable and much less stressful.

Here are a few things we can remember this holiday season to make things more fun and less overwhelming.

  • Take Responsibility for Our Experience. It’s important that we each remember, myself included, that the stress we experience during the holiday season does not come from the holidays themselves, but from us. We’re always the creators of our own experience and the more we can remember this and live our lives from this perspective, the more empowered we are.
  • Remember We’re at Choice. We always have a choice about how we engage with anything. This holiday season we can choose to be annoyed by family members, obligations, forced work gatherings, crowds, or anything else. Or, we can choose to enjoy the magic and fun of this time of year.
  • Focus on What We Appreciate About the Holidays. Consciously choose to focus on the things that you appreciate about the holiday season the most. Tell the truth about this to yourself and to those around you. If at all possible, don’t participate in work or family gatherings out of obligation. But, regardless of where you are, what you do, or whom you are with – make a commitment to appreciate what’s happening, the people around you, and the many blessings in your life right now.

Even and especially when things are challenging, we always have so much to be grateful for. At this time of the year, we can take a step back, pat ourselves on the back, breathe deeply, and experience the gratitude we have for our lives, the people in it, and for ourselves. If not now, then when?

Enjoy these next few weeks…it’s up to you, as it always is. Happy Holidays!

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