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Published:December 17th, 2007 09:06 EST
Stay in the Spirit of Christmas

Stay in the Spirit of Christmas

By Kent Healy

Most people I speak with enjoy Christmas and the holiday season. When I ask them specifically what they like I get answers such as the opportunity to spend time with family and friends, traveling, great food, opening gifts, and of course, taking some time away from school and work. It all sounds appealing to me!

I don't know what it is about Christmas. Maybe it's the giant candy canes in people's front yards, the bright Christmas lights decorating trees and houses, the cheerful holiday songs, or is it that homey scent of cinnamon in the winter breeze? Who knows? But generally speaking, Christmas gives us something to look forward to and that is always good.

But what happens during the months following Christmas and New Years? For many of the people I spoke with, this period of time was their least favorite time of year. They expressed that the hope of good snow for skiing and snowboarding was one of the only upsides for that time of year.

Well, with only one thing to look forward to, of course the months following Christmas can seem dreary! Let's look into this for a moment. During the Christmas holidays we're thinking about what we can give other people and what gift will put a smile on someone else's face. Naturally, this is a very nice thing to do--it puts meaning into the old phrase, "the spirit of giving." However, in this process, it's easy to lose focus on the provider (yes, that's us).

You might be thinking, "Hey, I'm the last person I should be thinking about! That's selfish!" Well, taken to the extreme too much self-attention will saturate our ego, but at the same time, we also need to give a specific gift to ourselves. What am I talking about? The gift of gratitude.

When Christmas day arrives and all of the gifts are bought and wrapped, we can finally relax. This day often becomes a good reason to give ourselves a chance to slow down and give thanks for the many blessings that we have. But what about the rest of year?

Well, one thing is for sure: It's not the time of year that enables us to feel grateful. Many people enjoy Christmas because they finally allow themselves to enjoy it-meaning they stop to think about other people and what is happening in their own lives. They think about who they are, what they have, and where they live. As a result they experience a feeling of gratefulness.

Gratitude is a gift we can give ourselves and the best news is, it's a gift that keeps on giving. Joy, cheerfulness, and appreciation are all elements of the Christmas experience that are enhanced when a genuine sense of gratitude is added to the mix. This is a lasting gift that extends the spirit of Christmas to each day of the year. Now that's "Cool Stuff!"

When you're enjoying life, you have much more to share and give. Nothing puts a smile on somebody's face better than a genuine smile on your own face. Just like a yawn, authentic cheerfulness is contagious.

Don't make the mistake of waiting for the holiday spirit to engulf you. Push the pause button and appreciate everything you have to be grateful for. Your feeling of thankfulness will inspire others to do the same. Don't believe me? Just try it. Happiness is something we all want, so when you have it, people will get curious.

This Christmas, give yourself the gift of gratitude. It costs nothing, but is in fact priceless. Lead by example and show others that the holiday spirit starts now, and that it continues each day throughout the whole year.

Merry Christmas!

- Kent Healy