The New Year is here and with it comes all the things we will resolve to do in the upcoming year. Quit smoking. Eat healthier. Exercise more. You know, the usual things we promise ourselves year after year with varying results and little sticking power. In the days leading up to our big family Christmas Eve get-together, my daughter and I were talking about the things we loved most about the holidays. At the top of this list were two things. The gathering together of family and the ease with which goodwill towards friends, neighbors and strangers seems to flow so naturally at Christmastime. Then she asked the simple question “Why can’t we carry that spirit with us throughout the whole year? Wouldn’t that be beautiful?” Good question. Why can’t we? Why not make THAT our New Year’s Resolution?
The Holidays begin with gratitude at Thanksgiving. By simply beginning each day acknowledging the things you are grateful for you can dramatically increase your baseline happiness. Whether you choose to keep a gratitude journal or simply say a thankful prayer each day, staying conscious of our blessings every day will lessen the blow from the difficulties life inevitably brings. This is truly a life changing practice. One of the side effects of a daily gratitude practice is the desire to be charitable.
During the months of November and December, also known as “The Giving Season”, charitable organizations receive about 25% of their annual revenue. In addition to adopting that family next year, why not spread out those charitable donations and deeds throughout the year? During the holidays soup kitchens and homeless shelters literally have too many volunteers. When spring is in the air and during the dog days of summer is the time they really need you!
While working a shelter or soup kitchen may not quite be your thing, there are opportunities abound when it comes to doing good for others. Some may feel better about making a monthly pledge to their favorite charity while others may want to be more actively engaged. Do whatever feels right to you. Remember that charity doesn’t only come in the form of a donation or an afternoon of volunteer work. Commit random acts of kindness, like taking in the neighbor’s trash cans or making soup for a sick friend. Something as simple as a generous tip to the struggling young mother serving your dinner can make a huge impact. These are all charitable acts that we can do every single day, and little things add up to tremendous gifts we give not only to others, but to ourselves. Gratitude and the charity it inspires is what feeds our hearts.
And if that is what feeds our hearts, then it is relationships that feed our souls. Resolve this year to spend more time with family and friends. Eat dinner together, go to a movie or spend a day at the beach. Call that friend you’ve been going to get together with and make it happen. Go ahead, accept that invite or extend one outward. Engage in meaningful conversations. Laugh until your face hurts. Nothing can compare to the feeling of genuinely connecting to others.
Instead of trying to break a habit this year, resolve to make one. Commit to living in the spirit of gratitude, charity and connection. Do it every day, even when you don’t want to. It can be Christmas every day, all you have to do is make it so. In a year you will reflect back and say, “Look how beautiful.” I guarantee it.
photos from Pixabay