5 Easy Ways to Start a Daily Gratitude Practice In the push from Halloween to Christmas, sometimes we lose sight of one of the most important traditions in holiday celebration: pausing to be thankful. In her research on joy, Daring Greatly author Brené Brown noticed a connection she didn’t expect. People who were living joyful lives also followed a daily gratitude practice. What does that mean? Practicing gratitude goes further than having an “attitude of gratitude”, though that’s a great place to begin. A gratitude practice means taking action or spending time purposefully reflecting on experiences, relationships, and things we are grateful for. This year, as the holidays approach, make a point to pause and reflect on the moments you’re grateful for. Maybe for you, it’s that coffee date with a friend, or watching your favorite holiday movie. How can you reduce stress and celebrate gratitude along with your holiday traditions this year? Here are 5 easy ways to add a gratitude practice to your life. 1. Keep a Gratitude Journal Start a journal and commit to writing in it every day. Set a time to do this, perhaps just before bed or in the morning when you first wake up. List three things you’re thankful for. If you prefer the tech approach, there are many apps like 3 Good Things or 5 Minute Journal to log in the things that you feel thankful for. Once you get into the habit, you may find days where it’s hard to limit yourself to just three! 2. Create a Gratitude Jar Place a large vase or jar in a central area in your home alongside scraps of paper and a pen. Write down something you’re grateful for every day on a slip of paper and place it in the jar. Consider setting a time of day when you add something to the jar. Also set a time of the month or season when you sit down and read the notes in the jar. Perhaps every Sunday evening, so that you go into a new workweek with a boost of gratitude. You can do this alone or with your family and perhaps read your “best moments” together during the year end holidays! 3. Take a Savoring Walk Each day, take a “savoring walk”. Spend about twenty minutes walking outside. Let your mind slow down and notice the shapes of the trees, the sound of the wind, and the feel of the sun on your face. Pause to appreciate these things and acknowledge your gratitude for them. 4. Appreciate by Abstaining There are many ways in which we live comfortable lives. We have food to eat, electricity, and internet access. We have access to books and media through stores and libraries. One way to practice gratitude is to choose to abstain from a pleasurable experience for a period of time. You may try giving up sweets, your favorite store-bought latte, or try a social media detox for a period of time, such as a [...]
3 Tips to Avoid Holiday Stress so You Can Celebrate What Matters Sometimes the excitement of having time off, being with friends and family, sharing our favorite foods and drinks and creating special memories can get lost to the holiday stress of preparing for each event. What can we do to minimize stress and maximize happiness this holiday season? Here are 3 tips to boost your joy and be more “zen” this holiday. 1. Give Yourself Permission to Update Your Plans. If you find yourself dreading a particular event or aspect of the holidays, take the time to pause and examine why. Are you dreading a particular event because it’s located in a difficult place to get to? Are you feeling overwhelmed by the number of things crowding your calendar and really wishing you could take a break from the hustle and bustle? Give yourself a moment to understand what’s causing the holiday stress. Once you understand what it is, ask yourself some questions: What happens if you skip this event? Is it essential for you to attend? Could you make an appearance for an hour and then excuse yourself gracefully? If it’s a small event that you’ve organized, is it something you can reschedule to after the holiday rush is over, when you can enjoy it more? 2. Put Your Favorite Holiday Traditions on Your Calendar. Take a few minutes to think about your favorite holiday moments. Is there a specific activity that’s your favorite? Do you love putting on Christmas music and decorating a tree? Is there a holiday treat or meal that’s your favorite? A holiday movie or show you’ve been looking forward to? List your top two or three favorite holiday traditions and put them on your calendar now. You might consider timing them so that you have something special to look forward to the day after something you’re not as excited about doing, or as a space-holder in the middle of a week that’s sure to be super busy. Putting the things that are special to you on the calendar makes sure you don’t reach the end of the holiday season feeling like you’ve missed out on the things that matter to you. 3. Find Simple Ways to Give. Giving at the holidays helps us capture joy by spreading it. It also helps us feel grateful for the things we have. Sometimes that joy and gratitude are exactly what we needed to bring us out of our holiday stress and pull us back into a place where we can enjoy and celebrate this special time of the year. The holidays are saturated with opportunities to give, from donation buckets outside department stores to toy drives to opportunities to provide a holiday meal for a family in need. You might find out that someone in your community or family needs help with a something specific. Maybe you simply buy coffee for the person behind you in line at the coffee shop. Happy Holidays from KCC! Give [...]
What do you buy the person who has everything? Have you heard people ask this question? Sometimes it seems overwhelming to try to think of a gift for a friend, coworker or loved one when they seem to have everything they could ever want already. It's probably because you're thinking of giving them a thing, an object, something they could easily buy. I'm going to tell you a secret about gift giving that will change how you think about birthdays, anniversaries and Christmas celebrations. Ready? Here it is: the best gifts aren't items. They're experiences. Opportunities to Buy Experiences Are All Around Us Look around your community for local events and experiences. Take a music-loving friend to hear a community orchestra or a jazz ensemble. Find a new park or trail to hike together and pack some fun snacks to share along the journey. Is there a show or an exhibit coming to a museum or gallery near you that your spouse or coworker might enjoy? You can also help your friends and family members by suggesting these kinds of experiences as gifts. Doing something together to celebrate your birthday creates a memory that lasts. It gives you new stories to share and gets you out of your routine to add a little freshness to your life. Celebrate with Experiences Any Day Giving experiences doesn't have to be expensive. You can bring them muffins, take a picnic lunch somewhere fun. Pick up smoothies and walk at a local park. Invite someone for coffee or for a meal. Spending time together and getting away from daily distractions allows you a chance to connect to the people who matter most to you. You don't even have to wait for a special day to celebrate. You can give this happiness-boosting gift any day! So this year, as the people around you celebrate milestones, keep experiences close in mind. Look for opportunities to share them with the people you appreciate to show how much you care by giving them a lasting gift of happiness. Get More Tips and Information on Improving Your Happiness Learn more about how experiences impact happiness in Day 16: Money: Buy Experiences, Not Things, in my book, 21 Days to Happiness.