The modern holiday season has become more of a mad dash from November though the new year. There are so many school plays to see, cookies to bake, family and friends to visit, shopping to do, packages to ship. With all that added to a normally jammed work and life schedule, the holidays become a blurred jumble to get thorough rather than enjoy.

Here are five easy ways to make your holiday season a little nicer, a little kinder, and a lot more satisfying.

1. Give What You Can

Part of the reason giving is so satisfying is because it requires you to share something valuable to you with someone else. If you have money to give, buy some extra presents for kids who might not get much. Spend some of your extra on gift cards to grocery stores and drop them off at a local food pantry. If you have extra goods in your home (unused sweaters, coats, blankets) find places that need those items and drop them off.

2. Spend Your Time

If you don’t have much extra money, spend your time in ways that are equally valuable. Take an afternoon to visit with shut-ins in your town. Bake some homemade goodies to share with neighbors or a senior center. Volunteer your nursing know how to teach a group of kids about health and wellness. Walk some dogs at the pet shelter. Knit baby caps or pack up hurricane relief boxes for areas hard hit this year. The world needs a lot of things right now and time is in short supply. Give some of yours and watch what an impact it has.

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3. Work Hard to Spread Cheer

Hustle and bustle doesn’t always make for happy people. The lines in stores, the traffic on the roads, and the time spent on extra errands can make even the most even-keeled person cranky. But a lot of cranky people make everything that much worse. Make an effort to be the person who is kinder than the next. Feed the birds. Hold the door open for someone. Let the person with two items go ahead of you in line. Chat with someone sitting next to you at a community event or a professional gathering. When you are kinder, it spreads to others.

4. Reflect Alone and Together

Take time to think about what the season means to you. Dig deep and uncover what will make the season more joyful and more joy-filled. Do you want to hear more music or do you need silence? Do you need to be around people or do you need a day to yourself? What purpose do you want to fulfill in the new year? Find others who have similar thoughts about this time of year and spend some time talking and hearing each other. Then move into the next month with intention and a vision for making the season better for you.

5. Connect with Others

Connect face-to-face with people you care about or with people you have lost touch with. It’s easy to lose connections in today’s online environment, but the real joys of something as simple as a cup of coffee with a friend can soothe your soul. Reach out to others. Heal old wounds or repair the relationships worth fixing (don’t even consider wasting your time on the ones that aren’t). Recognize that we all carry our own burdens and that together they may be lessened.

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How will you make the world a kinder place this year?

Julia Quinn-Szcesuil
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