December first was always a fun day for me as a child. It was the first day of the Advent calendar! I would open the little flap marked 1, and there would be a little picture for me look at. That little picture would only fuel my excitement and wonder for the holiday.
I want my blog to be like that for you this December. Instead of a religious theme, however, I want to use a ‘Build Better You’ Theme. Each morning you can click the link into the blog and experience a little picture of what a better you could look like.
Today’s picture is about gratitude. This will really help us maintain the right mindset throughout the winter holiday season, which as I talked about in last week’s podcast, can be downright stressful.
Gratitude helps us fight our biological bias toward negativity
If left to our own devices, we human beings are distrustful and negative creatures.
From a biological and evolutionary standpoint this makes sense. Anticipating worst-case scenarios has over the course of history helped us protect ourselves, from the cave to the boardroom.
Negative thinking like this can really bog us down. The way out is to do gratitude.
We have to teach our bodies and our brains to be happy. First our brains need to learn how to recognize positivity! We have to call attention to it.
Assignment #1: How often do you say the word ‘appreciate’? Keep a log.
When you appreciate something, make a note of it aloud. You want to speak gratitude.
Sweden is approaching the darkest time of year so whenever I see the sun you had better believe I appreciate it! I will turn to my son, husband, or even companion to say: “I so appreciate the sun today! It’s been so dark.”
What might you appreciate this day? The sunshine, a co-worker who noticed how hard you worked on something? It could be as simple as the dog putting her head on your lap at the end of a long day.
“I really appreciate you noticing my work on this project. That really made me feel good.”
“Boomer, I appreciate you for always knowing when I need you.” Yes, talk to the dog!
Assignment #2: Keep a gratitude journal
This isn’t separate from the first assignment. At the end of the day, write down 3 things you felt grateful for that day. No need to write more than you want to. A list is fine, although I encourage you to write at least a sentence.
The journal becomes especially important when you’re feeling low. This is when you read all those entries and, hopefully, remember what made you write a particular entry. That should kickstart your gratitude and your overall being. See what nice things you have, and have had happen to you!
Assignment #3: Tell someone what you like about them
This morning I got a note from my Aunt Thelma, who is 80, and she was thanking me for a package I had sent her. Her message made me feel noticed and cared about and reminded me I cared about her too! How great is that?
Throughout December, every day, tell someone what you like about them. You can do this in person, in an email, in a letter. You can do it in one sentence.
There’s another picture in your Build a Better You Advent Calendar about this later, but: making someone else feel happy is a very powerful way for us to feel happy ourselves.
This is the season for giving, isn’t it? Let’s not limit it to a few special days this season or to wrapped packages.
Build a Better You Right from Your Email Inbox
Sign up for my email newsletter and get a different ‘picture’ of a better you every day for the month of December. Better yet, show your gratitude for your friends by telling them to sign up too.
“Giving Thanks” by Flickr user Hey Paul Studios is licensed under CC BY 2.0.