KEEPING IT REAL THIS HOLIDAY SEASON
Being Grateful & Real
I wanted to re-share this post from last year. This year it has a very different meaning but an important one at that!
When I was spinning class this morning, I was thinking about everything I am thankful for. As I reflected on my blessings. I also very aware of some very difficult situations my family and friends are going through. I have made it a goal to celebrate the holidays with purpose, grace and joy and not stress about the little things. I am sharing several ways to do just that.
While images of bright lights, love and joy fill storefronts, TV screens and social media, for many people we all know, the reality of the holidays isn’t so cheerful.
I pray for so many of my friends and family members that are enduring difficult battles. I have friends (yes plural) who have lost their children recently (suicide, accidental death etc.) and every morning I wake up my heart hurts so bad for them it makes me feel ill.
I can’t even imagine the nightmare these families are going through. The holidays are never going to be the same for them.
I have gal pals who are licking their wounds after an ugly divorce, struggling with teens who fighting anxiety and depression issues, loss and dealing with aging parents, health issues and the list goes on. We all are fighting our own battles, some more complicated and deeper than others. It’s important to practice gratefulness.
I am not trying to be depressing, I am just trying to keep it real this holiday. So how can we have a holiday filled with purpose, grace and joy? Keep it real. Be your authentic self in the fake society we all live in. Some ideas follow.
The Perfect Facade- AVOID IT
At the holidays, the pressure of trying to do everything ― decorate the house in the perfect color palette, buy the best gifts, plan the ideal holiday meal, say yes to every event, meet those year-end deadlines ― can be enough to send anyone into a tail spin. In some cases, it can never feel like enough. I am so guilty of doing this!
Stop! Don’t do this to yourself. Don’t get bogged down with trying to be perfect. If your house isn’t all decorated as you wish- who cares! Don’t worry about the perfectly curated social media posts.
Just be mindful of the time with friends and family and reach out to help those around you. By doing so, it will make you feel warm and cozy inside. That’s the best part of the holidays.
Practice Empathy, Grace & Gratitude
Since Thanksgiving is all about taking time to be grateful. It’s also an ideal time to practice gratitude, grace and empathy. No matter how difficult our life is, there is always something to be thankful for.
The theme of my blog is to live a beautiful life with purpose, grace and joy. As I prepare to publish the Gal pal Gift guides, decorate the house for Christmas and enjoy the beautiful part of the holidays, I don’t want to forget the most important part. To be kind to others with grace and joy. To give back, that’s what the holidays are really about. It not only grounds me but others need the love.
I’ve identified the following areas that help me cultivate joy in my own life. It is my prayer that they will do the same for you.
Infuse your life with action. Don’t wait for it to happen. Make it happen. Make your own future. Make your own hope. Make your own love. And whatever your beliefs, honor your creator, not by passively waiting for grace to come down from upon high, but by doing what you can to make grace happen… yourself, right now, right down here on Earth.
Embrace Joy In Every Day
Practice Being Mindful- Living In The Moment.
As you go about your day, bring your attention to seeing, touching, and listening wholeheartedly—mindful of how you are touching and being touched by the world.
Focusing on your present moments limits space in your mind for worrying about the future or feeling sad or mad about the past. Too many of us live in our heads most of the time and forget to notice the small moments of our days that are passing us by. We all feel more grounded when we pay attention to what is happening in the current moment.
Take Time To Stop And Reflect
Take moments to pause and reflect on the joy —to feel the warm sun, to hear the laughter of a child on the playground, to fully taste the food you eat. Reflect on all the positive things that have happened in the day. Plan some fun holiday traditions with your girlfriends.
By being mindful, it will bring joy into your life as you begin to appreciate all the little things that surround you.
By being mindful for really mundane things such as holding a warm cup of coffee between your hands in the morning or standing in the shower relaxed as the hot water pours over your body is an ideal time to say “thank you.” Making time to reflect and be grateful is a healthy habit. Creating a mindful home makes this process easier and enjoyable.
Kids need to learn how to embrace joy more now than ever with all the social media in the digital world. So sometimes, parents will take time to practice being mindful if they know they will be a good example to their won children. Just a thought.
Stop Comparing Yourself To Others
It’s important to note that The Social Comparison Theory states that we compare ourselves to others to make accurate evaluations of ourselves. Comparing yourself to others is in our DNA o don’t kick yourself if you do this. Reminding yourself of this should make you feel better. Yes?
Making comparisons affect the way that people behave and act. Some similarities might make you perceive you’re inadequate, which result in a lack of confidence and inability to reach a goal. When you don’t feel good about yourself, everything seems to suck. Sometimes you have to just let some things go in your life to welcome change.
Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D. ,a leading gratitude researcher, has conducted multiple studies on the link between gratitude and well-being.His research confirms that gratitude effectively increases happiness and reduces depression.
Grace- How To Share And Show It
Living a life with grace includes practicing kindness and compassion — When you live a loving life, you feel surrounded by love. And, you will be making a difference in the world, whether you feel it or not. Being kind hearted will enhance the well-being of everyone in your life, including you.
There are countless ways to be kind to others. Years ago I started a nonprofit project karma. The idea behind it was to empower children to reach out and help others so they can create a ripple effect.
One kind gesture creates another and so it goes on and on. The idea is that when you offer a kind gesture to others, it feels so good it becomes addicting. A great lessons for our youth!
For more for how to cope with gratefulness during difficult times like the pandemic, read here.
12 Ways To Show Your Grace & Kindness
Here a few simple things you can encourage your family to do this holiday- or anytime.
- Write an encouraging note- and or a thank you note.
- Learn to Ask for Forgiveness– Be quick to apologize when you make a mistake or have wronged someone else.
- Hold a door open for a stranger
- Help an elderly neighbor
- Offer a kind word to a stranger- ask them how their day is going.
- Donate something you don’t use. Or a whole box of something. Drop them off at a charity — others can put your clutter to good use.
- Make a donation. There are lots of ways to donate to charities online, or in your local community. Instead of buying yourself a new gadget or outfit, spend that money in a more positive way.
- Stop to help. The next time you see someone who needs help. Stop to help! If your kids need help managing social media, talk to them. Here is a guide.
- Teach. Take the time to teach someone a skill you know. This could be teaching your mom to use email, teaching your child to play the piano, teaching your co-worker a valuable computer skill, teaching your spouse how to decorate the tree.
- Help and comfort someone in grief. Often a hug, a helpful hand, a kind word, a listening ear, will go a long way when someone has lost a loved one or suffered some similar loss or tragedy. A good friend of mine just lost their son in a tragic accident. It’s been several months now, and she tells me it’s natural that everyone else starts to go on with their life but the need for loving support doesn’t go away. Keep in touch with these friends who need you. Make sure they know you care. They need your support!
- Be There– Sometimes your presence is all that’s needed to show someone they’re loved. Be happy with the person who’s happy. Be sad with the person who’s sad.
- Forgive– when someone asks you to forgive, do so graciously and without correction.
Create A Joy Board
Make a large board and fill it with pictures, captions, or words that you want your life to reflect. So many of us know what we don’t want, but are not clear what we do want. Want to be more healthy and fit? Add pictures of what represents that. You get the point.
Pin it to a wall in your home so that every day you are reminded of what you want in life.
Spend Time With Close Friend Or Two
I believe that as women, we are better together. What I mean by that is we do really well when we spend time and share our life with our closest friends. We learn from each other an we help solve problems when we are together. It’s good for our soul.
I recently was inspired by a story where a friend partnered with another friend to encourage each other to practice gratitude. When you share your gratitude with someone it makes it real. Do this with your kids, it will be a great way for them to practice gratitude.
Have a wonderful holiday and I continue to be so very thankful for each and everyone of you.