The Holiday Season is just around the corner, and our thoughts often turn to family, friends and community. We are already shopping for bargains, making our lists, and trying to determine the ‘just right’ present.
For many, we also find ourselves reflecting upon what is most important to us, such as appreciation, gratitude, love and genuine happiness. Sometimes, we observe our children with the excessive focus on ‘what am I getting’ and this strikes a bothersome cord.
Intuitively, we know that this focus on only ‘getting more stuff’ can lead to a greedy life, and one lacking in appreciation and genuine happiness. This ‘give me more’ perspective often comes with little interest in ‘giving back’ to the amazing world that permits us such abundance.
How Can We Nurture Happiness and Appreciation This Holiday Season?
There is little doubt about where the trends of society are taking us. There is more and more focus on adding to the stack of toys, goodies and electronic entertainment.
Almost everyone who discusses these trends expresses their intuitive worry about where this is taking families and children. So why don’t we change? Why don’t we move to a more where our hearts tug us this Holiday Season?
One Obstacle: We Share a False Story!
The false story is that our children will somehow be ‘left out’ or ‘lose out’ of opportunities if they are not given every possibly new gadget and toy available. This false story drives us to signing up 7 year olds on Facebook, and having them carrying cell phones. In a recent interview with some parents, they related, “Well, all her friends are on Facebook.”
This is dangerous thinking because we now continue to follow the trends that argue against the values that we stand behind. This is not necessarily the easy path.
Few things of value really are.
Instead, we choose the path that aligns with what we really view as important. For most of us, we want happiness and gratitude to be a strong characteristic in our home. If we drop the false story, then here is a simple way to move in the right direction.
One Solution: Nurture Acts of Generosity and Giving
One powerful way of having the genuine experience of gratitude is through giving. Now sometimes the giving is only in where what we ‘give’ our attention to. Sometimes it is a moment of giving a smile. Sometimes it is a moment of giving our time. But still
At home, many of us give and give to our children, hoping that one day they will begin to be more grateful and satisfied with all of the abundance they have in their life. Yes, it doesn’t seem to happen! Why? Because we let them experience something different….
• ‘Getting & More Getting’ Are Allies With Greed!
When children only experience ‘getting’ we see that many children (and adults) only become interested in more getting more (i.e., otherwise known as greed). It’s not a complicated or mysterious process, as this is natural.
When children simply get, get, and get even more—they become ‘hooked’ on the getting. There is no opportunity for their brains to have that experience of ‘gratitude’ that opens naturally from truly giving from the heart.
How often do we see children now getting more than we could have dreamed of—and yet only having disappointment because they want more?
This is a habit of wanting more comes from the life of constantly ‘getting’ without giving…
• Giving Is a Way of Finding Genuine Happiness & Gratitude
Start a focus in your family on having everyone more involved in acts of generosity—from the smallest to the more significant ones. Worry less about signing up for a new sport every season, and more about Saturday afternoons at grandma’s house helping out (without getting paid).
Clean out the house regularly, and refuse to allow anyone to harbor toys that go unused. Instead, have the children donate them to those in need.
If they participate in a school or special events activity, make certain that they also offer some of their time to helping out…whether it’s clean up, organization or simply putting things away after the events.
Also, we can easily volunteer at church, temple, homeless shelters, food pantries, hospitals, youth groups, and other organizations. In each of these ways, we begin to nurture values that not only bring more joy in the act of giving, but perhaps more powerful is the change in children when they now get to receive.