If you haven’t finished your Christmas shopping yet, then here’s wishing you the best of luck. It’s just not buying a gift for each of the important people in your life that matters. The challenge is in finding the right gift for each person – within your budget, of course. But have you thought about what you can give to yourself for Christmas?
This year (or any year) the best gift you can give yourself is the gift of gratitude. Gratitude is more than an attitude; it is a deeply felt emotion and a way of carrying your spirit. It is a powerful piece of personal equipment.
Some of you already know that with an active spirit of gratitude you can master your fears, chase away the blues or even come to understand the loss of a loved one. This amazing gift comes with all kinds of attachments that are remarkably beneficial, for with gratitude comes joy and the appreciation for the things others might consider as less significant.
Another attachment that comes with the gift of gratitude is something called ‘enough’.
Human nature has within it an unceasing desire for more; we live in a world where we are encouraged to go after more. The problem with trying to get and have more of everything is that we are never completely satisfied. That is why we have credit cards. But if you are one of the many for whom credit is not a good servant, but rather a terrible master, then that desire for more turns into the misery of debt and unpaid credit card bills, those financial obligations that cannot be met. The next step in the wrong direction is stress and we know by now that stress is a killer.
Yet, by taking the time to apply gratitude to what is already in our lives, that which we already possess, we can begin to enjoy the feeling of having enough. The reality for most of us, especially here in the West, is that we already have more than enough.
The gift of gratitude is a decision we make about how to be, and then it becomes a practice, for no gift has any real value unless it is used by the person who receives it.
And how will you know you have real gratitude? You will feel it in your heart and you will hear yourself being thankful. You will be conscious of that fact that you are blessed.
We’ve all heard of a gratitude list. It is a very basic way of cataloguing all the things that you are grateful for on any given day. Here is the evidence of your blessings, something you can look at as proof positive that you have a lot for which to be grateful.
Another application that comes with the gratitude package is a change in perspective. Gratitude makes food taste better, your home more precious and your friends more dear.
Having gratitude means seeing all of a given situation not just the difficulty in it. If, for instance, you have recently lost someone who was important in your life, while the loss feels enormous, it helps to remember the valuable experiences you shared that enriched your life.
This being the Christmas season, one of the best applications in the gratitude package is the joy that comes with giving to others. Remember the elderly Nova Scotia couple that was in the news recently. They had won $11 million in a lottery and gave away all but $200,000. Giving awakens us to how much we really have. It doesn’t even have to be a material thing. It could mean offering a word of encouragement or a helping hand.
What is most interesting about gratitude though is that it really is a gift only you can give to yourself.
A note on still believing in Santa Claus…
Putting aside the mythical Santa Claus who wears a red suit, has a sleigh filled with toys that is pulled along by flying reindeer and lives at the North Pole, the myth has its true origins in the Third Century with Saint Nicholas of Turkey, who history remembers as a very giving soul. Anyone who understands the power and the meaning of giving generously knows that the spirit of St. Nicholas/Santa Claus is alive today.