The approaching holidays might make you feel more “bah humbug” than festive this year. However, the best way to counteract the blues over what “isn’t” is to give thanks for what “is.”
Cultivating thankfulness improves your mindset and makes you appreciate everything that’s right with your existence. Here are 11 benefits of gratitude during the holidays that can help make your season brighter.
1. You Create Magic for Your Children
Think back to your childhood holidays. Chances are good you don’t remember the most expensive gift you ever received. What you cherish are the memories you made.
Build on this benefit of gratitude to make magic for your children now. Decorate the tree together and camp out beneath it for an enchanted evening under twinkling lights. Before hunkering down for the night, have a pajama movie marathon consisting of holiday flicks.
What if your child covets a toy that’s well out of your price range? If Santa can’t afford to deliver like in past years, use this opportunity to discuss what genuinely matters. Emphasize the time spent with family and friends, and brainstorm alternative ways to make gift-giving meaningful.
2. You Appreciate Your Spouse More
Do you and your spouse sometimes interact more like roommates than lovers? While life’s demands prohibit living on honeymoon, use gratitude this holiday season to strengthen your bond.
Get in the habit of writing notes to each other, explaining all the things they do that make you thankful. This exercise will help you relieve stress, too. Instead of focusing on your endless to-do list, this activity slows you down and reminds you to appreciate what is.
3. You Come to Enjoy In-Law Visits
Do your in-laws make you groan when they announce their annual visit? Why not look for things to be grateful for about their arrival?
Get your holiday preparation finished by letting your little ones enjoy alone time with grandpa and grandma. They’ll appreciate the one-on-one attention, and you won’t hear cries of, “I’m bored — are we done yet?” at the store.
4. You Get to Express Yourself Creatively
How often do you get to express yourself creatively? If you work a factory job and run one machine all day, every day, you could start to feel like a robot.
The holidays allow you to let your inspiration flourish. Make popcorn garlands replete with pinecones and berries to adorn your outdoor trees and feed hungry squirrels. Pretend you’re Martha Stewart and create a holiday centerpiece that awes your holiday guests.
5. You Can Become a Culinary Genius
Would you look at that stocked refrigerator? If you have food for your holiday feast, don’t bellyache over having to labor in the kitchen. Change your mindset by recognizing you are more fortunate than the many struggling with hunger.
Use your bounty to become a master chef. Before you start prepping your feast, scour online cooking resources to get pointers. Try something new. Even if your cheddar green bean casserole doesn’t taste exactly like your mom’s, it could become a modern classic.
6. You’ll Be Sincere When You Say Grace
You bask in the benefits of gratitude during the holidays when you join hands around the table. If you adopt a thankful attitude before you sit down to say grace, you won’t have to struggle to share your blessings.
Did your car start without complaint? Did you catch your toppling coffee before it spilled on your white dress shirt? Get in the habit of mentally expressing thanks for the little blessings that happen every day.
7. You’ll Enjoy Your Workouts More
Are you dreading your elliptical session? Try approaching it with an attitude of gratitude.
When you climb aboard the equipment, give thanks for your legs and feet. Reflect on the folks you know who don’t have the mobility or cardiovascular strength. Mentally express gratitude that you know enough to protect your health proactively through fitness.
8. You’ll Treasure Strengthening Bonds
Do you approach your holiday office party with dread rather than anticipation? One of the benefits of gratitude is that it makes you look forward to the opportunity to bond with those you don’t know as well as you’d like.
Strike up a conversation with Barb in accounting when you notice her standing by the punch bowl solo. You might discover you share a mutual love of sewing homemade fashion. Hello, happy pattern-swapping!
9. You’ll Give Back to Your Community
One of the most rewarding benefits of gratitude is that it inspires you to give back. This year, more people than ever are hurting. If you still have your needs met, give to those who don’t.
Instead of tossing spare change at the homeless, make several blessings bags to keep in your vehicle. Hand them out when you see someone in need. Better yet, get out of your car and pass the time. You might be shocked to discover they’re just like you — life merely played them a lousy hand.
10. You’ll Cherish Your Alone Time
Did the spring and summer shutdowns leave you feeling lonely? The hustle and bustle of the holidays might have you yearning for a little solo time to breathe.
Therefore, when you do get a few hours of alone time, you won’t whine about feeling bored. You’ll rejoice in the opportunity to do an Ashtanga class on YouTube without risking accidentally kicking your two-year-old if you fall out of a headstand.
11. You’ll Realize Material Possessions Aren’t Everything
The ultimate benefit of gratitude during the holidays is that it stops you from lamenting material things you can’t afford. Like the Grinch, you realize that maybe the spirit of the season doesn’t come from a store — the season means a little bit more.
If you do nothing over the holidays but pout that you can’t afford to surprise your spouse with a bow-wrapped new car, you may miss the chance to cuddle by the fire. When you let yourself bask in sincere thankfulness that you have them to share life’s moments with, you’ll cherish holding hands on a snowy, moonlit walk, sipping cocoa as you admire the lights.
Reap These 11 Benefits of Gratitude During the Holidays and Always
The benefits of gratitude during the holidays and always stretch nearly endlessly. Reap the 11 perks above by meditating on all those things you have to give thanks for this year.