By: Rachel Doherty | Tweens 2 Teen
Continuing my wander through 12 days of Christmas, today I’m unwrapping the gift of joy. As you get ready to stuff the turkey and pop the presents under the tree, do some of these things to cultivate joy.
I’ve got a combination of Christmas memories from my childhood. I have one of my brother and I camping out in the backyard in the hopes of seeing Santa land on our roof. We both slept through it though.
I also have memories of difficult Christmas’ that weren’t so full of cheer. And then I have snippets from big family gatherings at my aunt’s house. Stuffing ourselves with food. Playing backyard cricket and waiting for the summer thunderstorms to roll in.
“It’s not about presents but it is about your presence.” – Julieanne O’Connor
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Most of us don’t remember the gifts we got though. Do we? I do remember the year I got a fancy tape player come radio set up. I think I was about 15 years old. My kids would howl with laughter at how “low-tech” it was.
Christmas isn’t so much about the things we get, but the gift of time and the nurturing of qualities.
This is the second of my 12 days of Christmas series, where I unwrap one special gift to give each day this Christmas. If you want to go back and catch up, check out my article for the first day of Christmas, where I dive into the topic of love.
Open the door to joy this Christmas
As a parent we have one real job at Christmas. Helping our kids lay down those great memories. Times that they can draw on when life gets difficult or they feel all alone.
Here’s ten ways to cultivate more joy in your life:
1. Spot your blessings. It’s so easy to get caught up on what could be better in life, but what about all the little things going well? At the start of every morning, before you leap out of bed, just be thankful for a couple of things in your life. It will change your perspective!
2. Start a new habit. Setting little goals can give us great joy when we reach them. So don’t aim too high and take your family along for the ride.
3. Lose track of time. Life seems so busy these days that we rush from one thing to another. But this Christmas, set aside time to just do what you feel like. Let everyone in your house know that it’s “do what you want day” and have a guilt-free day off from life.
4. Point out what you like about others. Too often we leave our thoughts about those we love unsaid. Speak up and tell them what you like about them and what living with them means to you. Focus on the positives though, and fight the temptation to put a “but” on the end of your sentence!
“A miserable heart means a miserable life. A cheerful heart fills the day with song.” – Hebrew proverb
5. Give something away. People seem so guarded these days, but if you want joy to flow in your life, be generous. Pay for the coffee of the person behind you. Drop off a meal to a neighbour, or better yet invite them over for Christmas dinner. Life is short and being a blessing to others is contagious.
6. Light the candles. The ambiance of candlelight seems to set off something in our brains. A signal for a special time, with a lighter spirit. Change life up a little and leave the electric lights off for a night.
7. See difficulties as challenges. Life isn’t easy for anyone. We all face tough times. That’s when we need to dig deep and persevere. Keep your mind on the positives. Every difficulty is a learning opportunity, a challenge to overcome.
8. Pay a compliment to a stranger. We live in a judgmental work, where we can be our own worse critic. Saying something kind costs nothing but can make a huge difference in the life of others.
9. Recognise the signs of panic. Wise people know their bodies well. They pick up the signals that they’re feeling overwhelmed and do something about it. It’s a lesson that takes time but can set our kids up to succeed. Snuggle in for a movie. There are some classic movies that you can’t help but enjoy at Christmas. And they’re perfect for watching together. The Santa Clause collection, or Home Alone work in our house. My husband tries to get Mr Bean on that list without much success… What works for you?
10. Rekindle a memory. Revisiting a past time of joy can often ignite a new one. Go back to a place that was significant to you as a child and share it with your kids. Craft the art of storytelling.
Love might be the foundation of life in a family, but few can thrive without some joy along the way. Make one gift you give to your loved ones this Christmas the gift of joy. Spread it thickly and savour it!
Article supplied with thanks to Tweens 2 Teen.
About the Author: Rachel Doherty helps those living and working with young people, through supervision, coaching, speaking and consulting.