Christmas, heartwarming time of the year. Plenty of things to do and gifts to buy. By the time Christmas arrives, many of us feel drained. Can you relate?
But Christmas doesn't have to feel that way. This year I am slowing down. I am letting go of expectations and make a more meaningful celebration with my family.
One way is to express my gratitude and appreciation for the people in my life not only this Christmas but as a resolution for years to come.
William Arthur Ward said, “Feeling gratitude and not expressing is like wrapping a present and then not giving it.”
We can easily forget to show appreciation and make others feel special. So, why don't we give everyone, this Christmas, the gift of appreciation and gratitude for being there with us throughout the year?
To help you with your gratitude journey, here are 8 tips to express more appreciation for your family and in your daily life:
1. FEEL APPRECIATION FOR WHAT IS
We don't have to wait for big things in life to feel appreciation. It takes practice to get into the habit of appreciating and recognising every good thing in our lives. No matter how small.
Acceptance is the beginning of feeling appreciation. It is as simple as being thankful for the sun rising every day, even if the clouds cover it, a smile, a piece of music, sleeping in a comfortable bed, fresh air; all these things that we always take for granted.
Feeling appreciation for what is every day will rewire your brain, and you will start feeling happier after every session.
Takes practice but eventually, you will start seeing changing brain patterns that will lead to greater compassion and joy.
When practising appreciation, leave nothing out. Dig a little deeper into some of your own experiences and try to figure out how they have helped shape you into the person you are today.
2. PRACTICE AWARENESS
Becoming familiar with awareness means you have gained a good knowledge of your personality, which includes your strengths, beliefs, and intentions.
How we respond to external matters determines our attitude and internal mental approach to the issue at hand.
Before taking action, ask yourself, "Am I approaching this issue in the best way?" If you find good reasons to follow through, you will have clarity and confidence in your actions.
Our responses to certain situations are complex, so we need to put our feelings into words. Our ability to articulate how we feel has a therapeutic effect on our brain. By expanding our vocabulary, we will express ourselves much better to avoid creating stress.
Self-awareness is one of the most essential skills to live a harmonious and happy life.
3. PRACTICE YOUR APPRECIATION WITH YOUR FAMILY AND FRIENDS
Christmas is about spending time with family and friends, it helps us to grow closer to them and strengthen our relationships.
I remember the times when I was struggling with feelings of appreciation and gratitude towards my family and friends, but when I started to practice the feeling of appreciation, it helped me grow closer to them and strengthen our relationship.
It also gave me the opportunity to sharpen my acts of gratitude on people I care about.
Start small. If you are finding it difficult to connect with friends and family. One way is to just listen intently to what they have to say instead of waiting for your own chance to speak. Give them the gift of your attention, acknowledge and praise them.
4. STRENGTHEN GRATITUDE
With so many thoughts going through our minds at once, it is difficult to feel true gratitude when we divide our attention.
Make time to focus on the person you are with or with a group of people is around you to connect with them and enjoy happier times.
The holiday season is a fantastic time to strengthen gratitude and appreciation, and there are many ways to do so together as a family.
- Write a Thank-You card or note to your family to make them feel special.
- Say 'Thank You' more frequently.
- Schedule appreciation moments at least a few minutes a day.
- Have a happy meal together not only this Christmas but make it a habit.
- Take control of your thoughts and notice the benefits to you and those around you.
5. REINFORCE A POSITIVE SENSE OF SELF-WORTH
Most of us recognise the value of enhancing our feelings of self-worth. When our self-esteem is more dominant, we feel good about ourselves and we can bounce back from any challenges promptly.
But as wonderful as it is to have higher self-esteem, it is no easy task, particularly for adults. For many of us, it requires a bit of work as it involves developing and maintaining healthier and emotional habits.
If you have small children, the best gift you can give them this Christmas is to make them feel valued so they gradually internalise a positive sense of self.
Children with high self-worth feel loved, confident, happy, and develop into productive people.
When you spend quality time with your children, let them know they are important to you. Doing things together as a family can help strengthen a sense of belonging and togetherness in your family, which is also good for your children's self-esteem.
6. START A JOURNAL
A journal is a record where you write everything from your feelings about a particular situation to your thoughts on a current event. It serves a wide range of purposes.
Keeping a gratitude journal can significantly increase well-being and life satisfaction. It works because it slowly changes the way we perceive situations by adjusting what we focus on.
As you practice, you strengthen the neural pathways that help you find even more things to be grateful for.
A journal offers a private place for you to collect your ideas and observations on whatever is important to you in writing. Everything from your deepest feelings to get personal freedom and space.
For me, it has become a valuable tool. Every day I write something in my journal.
I start my day writing something to appreciate, for example, the view of the magnificent Swan River and Sir James Mitchel's park that I can see outside my window, the birds singing, the peacefulness of the early hours of the morning.
Then I write something that helps me maintain positive thoughts, which leads me to think of my family to only focus on their positive aspects.
Getting into the habit of doing this first thing in the morning has been helping me to maintain harmony with my loved ones.
7. ENHANCE APPRECIATION IN OTHER AREAS OF YOUR LIFE
Feeling appreciation can make you happy and you can enhance it by doing exercising or taking part in a hobby you enjoy.
Once you are feeling the endorphins flow, showing appreciation will become even easier and you’ll be able to make a long list of all the things in your life you are thankful for.
Appreciation is not only about being thankful for positive experiences. In fact, life presents us with some negative or difficult situations. Being aware of it and doing our best to find the best solution or approach will make us feel better.
People who regularly and actively practice appreciation are happier and experience a more positive disposition. Those same people are more energized with life, more compassionate and kind towards others. They sleep better and even have stronger, healthier immune systems!
Maintaining appreciation in challenges is difficult at first. Challenges themselves are not usually the real issue; It is our relationship to them that causes us the most suffering.
We all encounter challenges on our path of life, growth, and success. Many of the most successful and fulfilled people have faced extraordinary obstacles.
Keep in mind that appreciation means that we recognise the value of those challenges.
Contentment and gratitude truly are two of the best gifts you can give your family this Christmas.
I sincerely hope these tips are of value to you. I practice them every day. It took me a while to get into the habit, especially because I had to change my mindset and had to keep pushing myself to practise them regularly. But if there is any encouragement to you, eventually, they will transform your life.
What about you? If you also want to improve your relationships starting this Christmas by giving your loved ones the gift of appreciation, what other suggestions can you share with us? I'd love to hear from you.
Wishing you and all your family the best Christmas ever.
To Your Success,