How to Find Gratitude During The Holiday Season

gratitude during the holiday season

Written by Terre Grable

December 17, 2021

How to Find Gratitude During the Holiday Season

As the holiday season settles in, you may find that different emotions seem to come along.  Like so many others, the past year may have been filled with highs and lows that leave you desiring a sense of peace and finding joy in the moment.  Optimism is more than just putting on a happy face amid life’s struggles.  It is more than offering a token thank you for someone opening the door for you at the store.  Are you wondering how to find gratitude during the holiday season?   Gratitude is rooted in intentionally looking for and finding the positivity that fills your everyday experience. It’s not ignoring or denying the difficulty of real-life issues.

Gratitude is recognizing that even when we are handed circumstances that we wish were different, we can control our reactions and response.  It is looking beyond complaints to find blessings in our social relationships, possessions, and capabilities.  Sometimes we may have to look under every rock to see it, but it often rewards its seekers.  In short, finding gratitude is a stepping-stone to hope and joy.

Looking for Gratitude During the Holiday Season

Gratitude is not just positive – it is powerful.  It improves both physical and mental health by reducing stress, improving sleep, and results in feelings of greater well-being.

What we think about before falling asleep may influence how well we sleep that night.   Thoughts that are focused on stressful circumstances can result in poor sleep. One study suggested that keeping a gratitude list for a few weeks helped participants sleep longer at night and wake up feeling more refreshed. Likewise, studies have indicated that emphasizing positivity can offer more rest at night.  If evaluating life through a grateful lens can help you sleep better, then the holiday season is a great time to start.

If starting a list and adding to each day seems like too much work, then simplify the task by identifying one good thing that has happened that day.  It could be a kind word that someone spoke to you today.  Or that you caught a glimpse of sunshine.  A funny commercial on the radio or a meme that came across your social media.  Even just the fact that you can read this post is more than many others can do right now.  Finding gratitude during the holiday season may take a bit more work, but it is there for the discovery.

Giving as a Means of Gratitude 

It may seem odd to think of giving as a means of having a thankful perspective.  Yet, finding some way to serve others can be an effective way to bring about Gratitude.  Giving requires us to look beyond ourselves and consider how we can make the world a better place.  Instead of pridefully elevating our moods at the expense of others’ misfortune, giving provides an opportunity to take a stand against the social injustices in our corner of the world.

Ironically, our benevolence usually ends up helping those on the giving end more than the receiving one. Philanthropy is not defined by large donations or limited to financial resources.  In fact, surprising someone with a cup of coffee can be very encouraging to another person.  Volunteering to spend some time helping a local charity is appreciated by so many local nonprofits.  The spirit of generosity is the main intention.  It is easy to start to rethink if you are doing enough or wondering how you measure up with others’ generosity.  Don’t fall for it!  Any act that is based on altruism is appreciated and significant.

More than possessions, perhaps the best place to find gratitude during the holiday season is within our social circles.  For so many, the past year has created an opportunity to value our interactions with other people.  Whether saying hello to the local barista or thoughtful conversation with colleagues, we have all come to appreciate the importance of gathering and community.  Being thankful and expressing our appreciation to those special people in our lives is amongst life’s treasures.

Similarly, the holiday season also gives us the space to evaluate our social circles and the freedom to step into healthier endeavors.  There is gratitude in the options to walk away from unhealthy people and relationships that weigh us down.  We are only limited by our fear of moving beyond our comfort zone.   Yet, when we embrace the courage to move forward, we can look back with gratitude for the lessons that have been learned and the ability to create a new future.

Looking for gratitude during the holiday season can be given to ourselves and others.  It costs little, and the benefit is great. Rich or poor, and whether times are a bit chaotic or calm, giving of ourselves helps us to share the holidays in a meaningful way with others.

 

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