4 Simple Ways to Enjoy the Holiday Season More (and just might be the secret to Happiness)

We all get so caught up in preparing for feasts and gatherings with family and friends, making our long lists of to-do’s, making shopping lists for gifts, getting our homes ready to host or preparing for travel plans to visit that sometimes we forget to just STOP. To take a moment and let ourselves be in the moment, to be grateful, thankful, and happy.

Did you know that gratitude has been scientifically proven to strengthen your immune system and make you happier and more optimistic, as well as less lonely and isolated? It’s true.

Thankful people know they didn’t get to where they are by themselves ― and they make it a habit to spend time with those people who matter most. Gratitude really helps us connect to other people. It strengthens relationships and relationships are the strongest predictors of happiness and coping with stress.

Thankful people also don’t shy away from the negative. While we often associate gratitude with focusing on the good and avoiding the bad, the key to leading a thankful life is embracing setbacks as part of your overall journey. When you start recalling a hard time you once experienced ― chances are, you’ll start to feel grateful for your current state and overcoming former challenges.

4 Simple Ways to Enjoy the Holiday Season

Here are just 4 ways to be Present, Mindful, and Thankful not just for the Holidays but everyday.

  1. Appreciate Everything: Don’t be picky! Gratitude doesn’t have to be saved for the “big” things in life. The habit of being grateful starts with appreciating every good thing in life and recognizing that there is nothing too small for you to be thankful for. Cultivate appreciation for others and let them know regularly that you are grateful for them and for what they do for you—whether it be helping around the house or always inviting you out for a fun dinner date. Focusing on the positive will make people want to keep doing it!
  2. Bring Yourself into the Present Moment: The present is a gift! Being fully present is one of the hardest things to cultivate, especially with all the to-do lists we give ourselves — but there’s a great reward that comes along with it. Start by just noticing your surroundings; feel the chair you’re sitting in, listen to each of your inhales and exhales. You will become more accessible and available to yourself, as well as the people around you. 
  3. Practice Mindfulness. Sit down daily and think through five to ten things you are grateful for. The trick is that you need to picture it in your mind and sit with that feeling of gratitude in your body. Doing this every day will rewire your brain to be naturally more grateful, and you’ll start feeling happier after every session. It only takes eight weeks of gratitude practice for people to start showing changed brain patterns that lead to greater empathy and happiness. Your brain is a powerful tool, and training it towards gratitude is all part of ensuring that the gratitude comes more easily as you practice, so what are you waiting for?
  4. Express Yourself and Spend Time with Loved Ones. Sometimes it’s not enough to simply keep your gratitude to yourself. You can increase your feelings of gratitude by expressing that same gratitude to the people you care about.

Not only does expressing your gratitude for someone make their day a little brighter, but it can do wonders for increasing your own levels of gratitude and happiness in the long run If you’re struggling with feeling the gratitude in the moment, go spend time with your friends and family. Of course it will help you grow closer to them and strengthen your relationship, but it will also give you a chance to practice your acts of gratitude on people that you care about. Start small if they’re having trouble finding ways to support your friends and family. For instance, why don’t you make sure you’re listening intently the next time someone shares a story with you instead of waiting for your own chance to speak? Or start a conversation with a difficult member of the family by complimenting their new shoes or hair-cut. By verbally showing how thankful you are to the important people in your life, you bring more happiness into your own life. 

Because to be Thankful is to be Happy.

What are some things you are thankful or grateful for? Let us know in the comments below.