As 2014 will quickly become history with only memories of what transpired in its place, the blur of multiple ‘to do’ lists causes even the planners among us angst. A friend of mine shared a recent story about a Muslim woman who is a witness to our society: ‘I see everyone create so much stress over one of your most holy holidays, and it seems few truly enjoy it. My high holidays are about calm and peace.’
To inspire us to embrace the holiday season we did our research and found Five Acts proven to Brighten Your Holidays:
1. Pay It Forward. There are few feelings better than making someone else’s day! Smile at a stranger, hold the door, or even better, buy the next person in line a latte, or pay the next car’s toll. According to Gandhi, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”
2. Allow Another’s Light to Shine. Let us be momentarily unselfish and take time to recognize people we often take for granted. Take a minute to give a compliment, praise a good job, share the credit, or thank someone for something we rarely notice. According to psychologist Dr. Hara Estroff Marano, “Focusing on… good qualities in the world around us gives our moods a boost… it is a kind of cognitive training… compliments amplify positivity; they not only deliver positive effects to others, those effects bounce back on us, ramping up the positive atmosphere we breath.”
3. Appreciate Holiday Lights. Interior designers and psychologists agree color affects mood. So while you are admiring decorative lights this season understand those colors influence more than the allure of a home you admire. White, historically a symbol of purity and innocence, will induce peace, and a sense of cleanliness and order. Red is an emotionally intense color that quickens the heartbeat and breath, creates alertness, and captures attention (lighter reds or pink induce romance and tranquility). Green symbolizes nature and is likewise easy on the eyes; it is calm but in a refreshing way.
4. Be Present. We all spend time with loved ones, and most often during the holidays we spend time with those loved ones we see less often. Have you ever driven to a destination and not remember the path? Similarly, it is very easy to get distracted by the noise of ‘to do’ lists and next stops, and not genuinely experience moments. Being present means fully engaging with all your senses attuned to the here and now. This provides an ability to connect that brings with it a sense of belonging. Belonging is an innate human need.
5. Touch Someone. Study after study confirms there is a biological need for touch. Some liken it to a hunger for touch that can only be satisfied by contact with another human being. A famous touch study, known as Marasmus (Greek for wasting away), reports that orphaned infants who had basic needs met (fed, cleaned, protected from danger) wasted away from lack of human touch and actually died. According to the Huffington Post, a warm and fuzzy hug can produce Oxytocin, the love hormone which we have all felt when embracing or bonding with a loved one.
So as we stop and smell the Frasier Fir, realize in sharing these gestures with others we are actually creating better health for ourselves. So, let’s go and spread some holiday cheer!
To happiness, health, and a brighter holiday season!