By Stephanie Jones
Does your chest tighten thinking about purchasing gifts for picky, non-appreciative people? Is your bank account empty from pursuing your dream? Are you feeling scroogey about shopping, wrapping and giving when you have so much else to do? I’m going to let you in on two little gift-giving secrets. The purchase price of the gift doesn’t matter and neither does the giver! Yes, you read that correctly. The gift - in fact, the whole holiday season and many of the stressors therein - is not about you. This means you can relax! Here are six actions you can take today to get out of the holiday funk and reignite your joy for giving.
1. Focus on the good.
Whether it is an annoying coworker, a family member who seeks attention (and not in a good way) or a friend who is a little too high maintenance, we let their faults overshadow their positive qualities. As they frustrate you during this season, remind yourself why you love and appreciate that person, then give them the gift of encouragement. Write a card, send a text, share in person, or pick up the phone and let people in your life know how you feel about them. They may be carrying a burden you don’t know about, so for this magical time of year, choose to focus on the good.
2. Freely give with no expectations.
Too many times when we give, our gifts come with expectations. For example, we think the receiver will like, appreciate, and say “thank you” for the gift. Maybe your gift - if you get honest with yourself - has other expectations like a gift from them in exchange, or that they’ll bury an old hatchet with you. The definition of a gift is giving something and expecting nothing in return. When you change your mindset on this, you’ll start to find joy in giving. If you are giving a gift that fits your budget and you put effort into the purchase, don’t worry if someone doesn’t like or appreciate the gift. That’s on them, not you.
3. Focus on what you can control.
Many times in giving, we get caught up in not only the recipient’s reaction to the gift but also that of onlookers. We’ve all felt pressure during the show-and-tell portion of the holiday party or family gathering when each person takes a turn talking about what they received and from whom. This stress can also rise to the surface regarding holiday season volunteer work or charitable donations. Ask yourself why you’re so stressed about a particular person’s gift. If you put thoughtful consideration into your gift and the receiver doesn’t like it or wants to exchange the gift, that is okay. If other people think it’s too much or too little or too weird or too boring, that’s also okay. You’ve done your part, now move on.
4. Find gratitude.
If you have watched any of Kelsey’s interviews, you’ve heard leaders discuss a gratitude practice. For instance, Tony Robbins practices gratitude for 3-1/2 minutes on three things every morning. He says, “I pick one of them, and I make it really simple, like the wind on my face or the smile on one of my children’s faces, so I don’t just have to have a giant thing to be grateful.” (Watch that clip again here.) If giving is stressing you out due to lack of funds, be grateful for what you can give. Get resourceful and creative. Find ways to give away your time or your talents and make a memories instead. If you’re in a position to give at all, many would say you’re #blessed. Try and remember that during the bustle.
5. Find some perspective.
Remember, it could be worse. If you are having a pity party for yourself because you’re down in the dumps about the holidays, volunteer at the local food pantry, soup kitchen, homeless or domestic violence shelter. Talk with people and inquire about their story. You’ll quickly learn the things you are allowing to ruin your holiday really aren’t that big of a deal in the grand scheme of life.
6. Fill your own gift bag, too.
I know I said giving isn’t about you, but you can’t be a joyful giver if you are stressed, tired and in a bad mood. Gifts for you could be an hour-long massage or the bargain set of brightly colored ballpoint pens that just make you happy. You do you, but consider purchasing your gifts on smile.amazon.com or from companies that give a portion of their proceeds to worthy causes. Extra giving means more bang for your buck!
Make the needed changes in yourself to find the good in others, give freely, and get most of this season of giving. Don’t enter the New Year with regrets about how/what/ when or even why you gave. To be your best self means living and giving without regrets. Happy wrapping!
This article originally appeared in the December Issue of our monthly magazine alongside articles from other great guest contributors and Kelsey, such as How to Truly Have It All, plus behind the scenes details from each December episode. To get the magazine subscribe here, issues are FREE but they expire each month so sign up today and download as soon they're available or you'll miss out! Subscribe
Stephanie Jones is a speaker, certified life coach and soon-to-be author of The Giving Challenge: 40 Days to a More Generous Life. In her book, she shares highlights from her 500-day giving journey. Stephanie helps people live their dream, discover their gifts, and do amazing things. As a fearless changemaker, she’s been a private investigator, police officer, and senior manager in a Fortune 100 company. Stephanie has traveled to 46 states, and even auditioned for her own TLC show in NYC. To learn more about Stephanie go to GivingGal.com or connect with her on Facebook.