Not just for Christmas: 10 free gifts you can give to others – and to yourself
10 free Christmas gifts with many benefits: They will bring joy to others (and yourself!), they are truly individual, practical, cause no clutter and don't harm the environment
1) The gift of gentleness
During this holiday season (and maybe beyond?) add a little gentleness to everything you do.
It will make a world of difference to those around you - and to yourself, too!
What means gentleness to you? - Maybe doing things with a lighter touch. Or less effort. Maybe speaking more softly. Or moving in a more relaxed manner.
"Live gently this Christmas: Accept the present moment by thinking gently, eating gently, drinking gently, talking gently, listening gently, shopping gently, cooking gently and driving gently."
2) The gift of acknowlegdment
It's so easy to notice the negative things in life, all the petty little annoyances and everyday problems: It's easy to notice a shop that doesn't give you great customer service. Or a kid that didn't complete his household duties. Or a spouse that forgot your anniversary - yet again.
Just simply noticing another person's effort or trying - even if it didn't succeed! - might make life quite a bit easier and more pleasurably for both of you:
"Hey, I know she tried her best. It's okay." or: "I know he didn't do it on purpose."
Or maybe you would like to go one step further and acknowledge all the small (sometimes even tiny) acts of kindness in the world around you:
The cashier who always has a friendly smile on her lips. A driver who yields you right of way. The fact that your garbage collection service always works smoothly and reliably. That your newspaper is always delivered on time.
You might want to ackowledge a well-written blog post. Or a free image you can download.
3) The gift of appreciation
Ackowledgment is easy for you? - Even better yet:
Give some genuine appreciation.
Everyone needs and loves genuine appreciation.
It's one of the most valuable gifts you can give and it lasts for a lifetime. If you make sure that the compliment you give is truly honest and comes from your heart, it might mean more to the other person than the most expensive gift you could buy in a store.
Yes, I know it sounds a little sappy but it is true. :)
4) The gift of patience
The perfect choice for the holiday season!
During the pre-Christmas and Christmas days, there are many opportunities for you to practice patience - with others and with yourself, too!
Think about practising a little patience ...
- at home: with your kids, your spouse, your relatives, ...
- at work: with your boss, your colleagues, your customers, ...
- while shopping
- on the road
- at social gatherings
- with yourself!
Patience might mean being tolerant with someone who arrives late.
Patience might mean being easy on yourself when you make a mistake.
Patience might mean not to overreact when someone cuts you off on the road.
And the gift of patience wonderfully ties into the gift of acceptance (see below).
5) The gift of acceptance
Complete acceptance is a wonderful gift - it makes all situations and interactions go so much smoother, so much easier. Acceptance means being okay (really okay!) with imperfection: Your own, other's people, the situation's, the world's.
Acceptance means being okay with the situation just as it is and dropping all your expectations of how it is "supposed to be".
Consider asking yourself: What if this is all okay just the way it is?
In her book "End the struggle and dance with life", Susan Jeffers tells the story of Alan Cohen transforming his experience at Mc Donald's from feeling annoyed to experiencing pure bliss - by asking himself the simple question: "What if this were all alright? What if nothing around you holds any power to make you unhappy?"
6) The gift of gratefulness
Much has been said and written about gratefulness the past few months. Indeed, the old virtue of gratefulness seems to be "in" again.
Why? - Positive Psychology tells us that it is very beneficial for us to be grateful: It makes us happier and even healthier!
Robert Emmons, author of the book "Thanks! - How the new science of gratitude can make you happier" tells us that grateful people "experience higher levels of positive emotions such as joy, enthusiasm, love, happiness, and optimism". Gratitude can also help to protect us from "the destructive impulses of envy, resentment, greed, and bitterness".
If your holiday family gatherings never go peaceful, you might be thankful that at least you *do* have a family to meet up with. Or you might be grateful that you don't have to meet them more often. ;) Or maybe you are thankful for the contrast this experience provides and it makes you appreciate peaceful social interaction even more.
Maybe you would like to start with acknowledgment (gift no. 2), add some genuine appreciation (gift no. 3) to it and you might be well on your way to developing more gratefulness, too!
7) The gift of humor
It's so easy to brighten someone's day: Maybe you could share a joke, write an uplifting note or just show a friendly face.
It all counts - and it all helps! Just noticing that someone seems to have a bad day and making an effort to cheer that person up a litte could be a wonderful gift in itself.
8) The gift of compassion
This doesn't only refer to the compassion you show for others but also, very important, to the compassion you have for yourself.
True compassion helps especially during tough times: If you are compassionate, you are aware of the fact that others feel the same way you do. That no matter what your problem might be, there are other people in a situation similar to yours. Feeling compassion for them helps you, too!
Self-compassion helps you to be aware of the fact that you're doing your best. And even if you don't always (ever?) measure up to your own expectations, you are able to be gentle with yourself. (See gift no. 1)
Buddhists practice metta meditation, the meditation of lovingkindness: They send compassion and well wishes to every living being, including themselves.
The benefits of metta? - Many, Buddha claims: Easy sleep and pleasant dreams, the protection of divine beings, a radiant face and a serene mind, peaceful death and rebirth in a happy place. Well, who wouldn't like that?! :)
P.S.: If you are interested to read more on the topic of self-compassion, I highly recommend Christopher K. Germer's book "The mindful path to self-compassion".
9) The gift of your time
Giving your time to help others is a truly precious gift. After all, your time is valuable and a limited resource.
You can do volunteering in your community, of course, but there are also many opportunities to give your time in everyday life - and it really makes a difference!
Just think of
- giving your time to do someone a favor
- giving your time to give some practical help
- giving your time to support someone with advice and encouragement
- giving your time to just listen (true listening is a gift in itself!)
- giving your time to simply be there for someone
- giving your time to help another person have more time, e.g. for solitude or recreation
10) What would YOU wish for this Christmas season - and beyond?
I could think of many more wonderful (free) gifts you could give to yourself and to others:
Trust, peace, love, encouragement, enthusiasm, ...
What would be on your wish list this Christmas season?