I hope you got a lot of nice gifts today. Gives you a good feeling to get things, doesn’t it? Remember everything you got last year? Didn’t think so. Sadly, the good feelings associated with material possessions don’t last very long.
What does last are the feelings that come from giving and receiving love. Two terrific ways to show love are kindness and being extraordinarily appreciative when it’s bestowed upon you.
Committing acts of kindness makes you feel as terrific as it does the people who benefit from your good deeds. Indeed, doing nice things for others makes you feel generous and compassionate, providing counterbalance to the negative parts of life.
Performing five acts of kindness in a single day has been shown to promote an increase in confidence and optimism. Feeling like you’re a kind person gives your life meaning.
And what better day to put this lesson into action than Christmas?
Doing good deeds for others will start a chain-reaction of positive outcomes. Helping someone will result in their caring about you even more, and their expression of gratitude will warm your heart. It will also inspire them to be more generous in how much they do for others.
Give the gift of kindness today. Choose five acts you intend to do, decide when you’ll do them and how much of your time and energy you’ll put into the activity. Intention is the best predictor of future behavior because it creates consciousness about how you’re choosing to live your life. But only if your intention is clearly formulated in your mind in the form of a video vision in which you’re picturing yourself performing the good deed.
Next, imagine how you’ll feel after you’ve done your good deeds. How do you think the other person will feel? How might that positively affect others in your family?
Another important step is to consider what obstacles within you might hold you back from acting at the appointed time. Will your inner critic say it’s silly? Will you be concerned about what response you’ll receive?
After identifying potential blocks, create ‘if-then’ plans for overcoming those obstacles. “If I’m unsure how someone will react to my kindness, then I’ll tell myself that I’m not going to let that person define who I am.”
These dress rehearsals in which you envision yourself committing acts of kindness also allow you to figure out how to do something special enough that it stands out from the nice things that you routinely do for someone, but not such a huge burden that you feel overwhelmed by the commitment.
Pay attention to what someone you care about seems to need. Find something different to do for them that will make it clear that you have carefully considered what’s important to them. For example, if someone needs a break from taking care of their children or an ailing parent, volunteer to give them a respite.
Another great ‘gift’ is to express compassion to a friend or family member who’s encountering difficulties. It will mean more to them than anything you could purchase. Is there someone who is feeling low? Someone who’s anxious about their future? What would you want someone to say to you if the situation were reversed? Expressing empathy for the struggles that they are encountering will signal just how much you care about them.
Surprise someone you care about who’s not with you today with a phone call to check up on how they’re doing. Can you schedule a time to go to lunch?
For the people who are most important to you, give the gift of gratitude. Because people cherish them forever, a gratitude letter is the gift that keeps on giving. Writing a letter in which you find the words that express your most heartfelt appreciation is an incredible act of love.
When you share with someone how they’ve made your life better because they’re in it, you help that individual experience the highest level of happiness. When you tell someone how their strength of character has brought out the best in you, they’ll know that the sacrifices they’ve made on your behalf were well worth it.
It’s fantastic to read a gratitude letter aloud to special people because you can both feel the love flowing from your heart.
The holidays are about love, not money. How much you spend on presents is not a reflection of how much you love someone. Kind deeds and words demonstrate love to your family and friends.