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What Christmas & New Year’s Day Taught Me About Gratefulness

by Lily Low. |

When we are nearing the end of a year, the theme of celebration comes to mind. Christmas dinners. Presents under the tree. Our loved ones: family and friends. A lot of food. Ushering in the new year. A party. Fireworks. Wishes and resolutions.

By reflecting on the year we had, this can also teach us about being grateful. Gratitude involves making a conscious effort to appreciate what we have. Being grateful contributes to a feeling of positivity, that reaches both inwardly and outwardly of the self.

We can be grateful for what we have, for growing from where we were, and moving forward. Gratitude does not only comprise of being thankful for positive experiences. It can also be for the intense experiences that pushed us to grow. These are some of the lessons Christmas and New Year’s Day has taught me about gratefulness:

1. Time flies – learn to appreciate the moment!

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

This past year, it felt like the months had flown by. More than ever, we realise that time is as precious as it is fleeting. In the midst of the delay of my academic year, I was able to spend more time with my loved ones. I started becoming more aware of the way they showed love, and I started learning how I can reciprocate my love for them.

2. In the spirit of togetherness!

The season of Christmas and New Year’s Day signifies both the end of a year and the start of a new one. Usually, these events involve many coming together to “eat, drink, and be merry.”

This time of celebration allows us to take a pause in our busy lives to focus on the company around us instead. We get to catch up with our distant cousins, see our all-grown-up nieces and nephews, dress up with our families, joke with our aunts and uncles, and enjoy conversations about the old days and the future. Occasions such as these remind me to be grateful for the time we can spend together with our loved ones.

3. Expressing or showing gratitude looks different on everyone

Gratitude can be expressed in different ways. A recent research study showed that those who wrote gratitude letters reported significantly better mental health than those who did not. Being grateful does not have to be a big show or a long ode, going on about the significance of our loved ones. It can be a genuine conversation to find out how someone is doing, scooping food onto their plate, or getting someone a gift because it reminded it of them!

4. Be grateful in every season, not just during occasions

We do not have to wait for the ‘big’ events to express our gratitude. When it comes to events such as Christmas or New Year’s, we emphasise more on happy vibes and “new year, new me”. The truth is, we do not have to wait to be grateful for what we have. On every other day, we can appreciate ourselves too. We can dress nice, eat that dessert, bake a cake, and reflect on how far we have come. At the same time, we can also appreciate the effort and love shown by the people in our lives. It may seem awkward to do so, but why not challenge yourself to express love to someone today? You do not have to wait for an occasion to show gratitude.

5. The joy in practising gratefulness

In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. A majority of studies published on this topic supports the link between gratitude and an individual's well-being. Practising gratefulness can improve a person’s psychological health. Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D., a leading gratitude researcher, has conducted multiple studies on the relationship between gratitude and well-being. His research confirms that gratitude effectively increases happiness and reduces depression.

Additionally, the joy of appreciation and being grateful becomes something that you can share with your loved ones. After all, is that not in the spirit of Christmas and the vibes of a great New Year’s too?

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