Yesterday afternoon I was driving home, talking with a good friend of mine. He noted that it really didn't feel like Christmas and I mentioned that I had heard that from at least a couple of dozen people already. We agreed that it was mostly due to the economy, as the weather was the most wintry that we've had in years.
I thought about this overnight and that much of this insecurity is obviously fear-based. We fear what we know, what we don't know, what the economy is going to do, how it's going to affect us and finally, will we be prepared to handle it. Having heard some of these conversations, one can quickly become overwhelmed by the 'what-ifs' that they contemplate. And I found those that had already experienced difficulty...seemed to be handling the situations better than those who were simply fearing things that could happen in the future.
I sure don't have the answers and God knows my thoughts and plans have changed with the addition of two young children. But I try to follow a few practices that always makes me feel blessed, no matter what gloom is looming across the community.
The easiest...and something that produces the most immediate, positive impact is a simple gratitude list. I started doing this after being introduced to it in an entrepreneurial coaching class. If you simply take out a piece of paper and list all the things that come to your mind that you are grateful for, you'll surprise yourself with both the quantity and the speed with which they come to your mind. And you might wonder how you could feel anything but being blessed when you read over your list.
Another easy opportunity to lift your spirits is to help others less fortunate. There are absolute tear-jerker' stories of families in need, often through no fault of their own. With the Internet and our vast not for profit organizations, it is super easy and convenient to get involved and help out. The impact is immediate...you feel so good and appreciative of all that you have.
Family. Spending time...extra time...with your family can be pure magic. Save for a memorial this weekend, I spent every minute of this weekend with my family and I feel like I've had a vacation. It's been so busy up to now and with the brutal cold this weekend, we spent hour after hour just playing and reading and learning about Christmas. Terry just turned three and has hundreds of questions about Santa. Again today he was on his hands and knees looking up the fireplace and wondering out loud how Santa was going to fit down the chimney:). I'll simply treasure these moments forever.
Faith. No matter what it is, relying on one's faith enhances confidence and hence, can decrease anxiety and stress. Lots of studies have shown a variety of other complimentary outcomes of those who regularly practice their faith. For me, just watching Terry fixated on the choir is priceless and worth every minute.
So, while there are a number of clouds overhead as well as on the horizon, there are a tremendous amount of things that each of us can no doubt be thankful for. Try to dedicate some time each day to reflect what you're grateful for and see if it doesn't lift your spirits and make you feel more cheerful. And a cup of great, Specialty Coffee or an espresso will work wonders, too:).