by Dr. Randy
Gifts are a wonderful expression of generosity. If your tradition includes giving gifts this holiday season, you may want to take a moment and consider the motives and dynamics of this generous pursuit. Children can be included in a discussion about the purpose of exchanging gifts. That purpose is the personal benefit of generosity and gratitude. And the lesson can extend over the entire year. Give whatever you can. Give the gift of listening, attending with concern and interest. Forego your own personal interests and appreciate the spirit and interests of that other person in front of you. Appreciate the interconnectedness of everyone and don’t take relationships for granted.
Make gift giving personal. It is especially amusing when the season turns into a gift unwrapping frenzy, which leaves parents dismayed and disappointed in their carefully crafted purchases. Personally handing gifts to their recipient is an expression of caring. “I thought you would really like this.” Even if the gift is from “Santa,” parents can say, “This looks like something special for you.” Children already know their parents are psychic. Slow down the whole whirlwind of the holidays and there will be less post-gifting let down. Savor the flavor of generosity. And express gratitude. Model gratitude for children. “Wow that is so amazing. I bet you are feeling really grateful you got that.”
Giving gifts is an outflowing of generosity. We may have stress about choosing the perfect gift for that special person, and apprehension about whether they will like it. We may have expectations that we will get a certain response from the recipient. Or we may give with a spirit of generosity and no desire for any reciprocity or recognition.
At this holiday season we can remember to express gratitude. There is a great deal of evidence from clinical studies that feelings of gratitude are beneficial to our mental state and level of happiness and even our health.
On a daily basis we can expand our awareness by being grateful for everything. The world is complex and functions in a hidden and fundamental network that we take for granted. We can start with gratitude for our families and friends, then expand to the awareness of objects that we use, the trees and lumber industry that provide our paper, the farmers and distributors and stores that supply our food. Even the workers that pave our roads. Everything in fact is interconnected, the cycle of oxygen and carbon dioxide in nature, the cycle of birth and death, the miracle of our daily existence. Be grateful for everything.