Do you find yourself stressed and overwhelmed at this time of year? With long “to do lists” and plenty of things to organize and deliver, I can sometimes lose sight of the joy of the season. Instead, I feel rushed – trying to fit everything in or going through the motions trying to check everything off my list. Yesterday my friend Dawn reminded me of the joys of giving. She dropped by with a very carefully thought out gift for Philip and I. It was great to watch Philip’s grin as he opened his present and showed me his gift – something only a real friend would know would interest him. She also hit it out of the park in her gift for me - a fitbit - I don’t know if I had ever mentioned to her I was thinking of getting one but somehow she knew it was exactly what I wanted. Today she texted me and told me how much fun she had shopping for our gifts. I could have beaten myself up thinking that my gift hadn’t been nearly as well thought out. Instead I used it as an opportunity to remember what is important. It reminded me that the research shows that giving to others gives us a greater sense of satisfaction than spending money on ourselves. Liz Dunn from the University of British Columbia showed that when people spend relatively more on others than on themselves, they are happier and have greater well-being. So I guess we both win. While this time of year tends to lend itself to generosity, being more generous any time of year results in a longer and happier life. The University of Buffalo found helping others reduced the impact of stress and creates greater well-being. So next time I am finding myself stressed with my to do list, I am going to remember to take the time to help someone else. Perhaps, I will pay for the coffee of the next person in line, hand some extra change to the guy outside the liquor store, help someone with their groceries or send an anonymous gift to a neighbour or colleague.
This holiday season, take the time to acknowledge those that are important to you, give to those around you and notice how it makes you feel. My heart is full with gratitude to each and everyone of you. May 2019 bring you all the things you have been dreaming of – or something even better!