How to Have a Happy Holiday

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One reason the Holidays bring so much joy is because this time of year is ripe for opportunities to share and receive gratitude. The rhythms and rituals of the season give us reason and permission to slow down, feel, connect, and reflect on all the good things that are right in front of us. In the company of our best friends and family we are filled with nostalgia for time we’ve shared together, and moved to create experiences that foster a sense of familial continuity and belonging.

This year, revel in the goodness of your life by taking time to practice gratitude in ways that will invite joy into your holiday season.

  • Create a time and place around your intention to practice gratitude. Integrate into the day a protected space, or cue, that serves as a mindful pause. For me this is the time I set aside a few days a week to blog or, if I’m lucky, to journal in the last 20 minutes before bed.
  • Use technology to your advantage. While there is awareness for the ways in which technology can distract and disrupt, some applications may serve to facilitate gratitude exchanges. Instagram is a favorite of mine—the handful of pictures I snap every day add up to something that resembles a gratitude journal: a highlight reel of time well spent. I have also noticed that other online platforms, like personal blogposts and even Facebook status updates, work really well for expressing gratitude and engaging the intimate life details of people who wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to connect.
  • Life is an adventure, be kind to yourself and look for the positive. The difference between expectation and reality can translate to disappointment, a feeling that will disrupt your ability to notice and appreciate what you do have. When life doesn’t go as you had hoped, there is still plenty of room for gratitude as you deconstruct lessons learned, and identify ways to be thankful for imperfection and resilience. Give yourself freedom to feel your feelings. No judgment here, just observation and awareness. Ask yourself: What can I learn? What did I do well? With perspective you can re-frame your negative thoughts into positive ones.
  • Consider Gratitude a priority of self-care. Life is full of stresses, good and bad, and the Holiday season offers up a mix of both kinds. In times of stress it becomes even more important to recommit to caring for yourself. Alternate the time you spend carrying out your responsibilities as a wife and mother, with activities of self-care maintenance and little pursuits for pleasure and happiness. You can only care for your partner, your children, your friends, and others as well as you care for yourself. Expressing gratitude adds a layer of joy, appreciation, and a deep sense of fulfillment to your day that will fuel your energy to nurture your most important relationships.

This month choose to be present, reflect on what is good, and share your gratitude in the ways that make sense for you:

  • Be Specific
  • Say it out loud (Have you read this article yet?)
  • Write it in a journal
  • Document it with photos
  • Send a gift of appreciation
  • Write a thank you note
  • Create a gratitude wall or advent
  • Share the highs and lows of your day at dinner or bedtime
  • Give a hug or a high five, blow an air kiss, offer a smile
  • Make a gratitude list, on paper or in your head
  • Tell a favorite story
  • Look through old photos, let your mind go back to those good times
  • Reread old journal entries, blog posts, or love notes
  • Give back with your time or resources

What are your favorite ways to practice gratitude?