With Thanksgiving just over, and the Christmas season upcoming, I’ve got some lessons to pass on from my own experience with this time of year. I strongly believe that finding meaning in our everyday lives is one of the best ways to recognize what matters to us and what we’re passionate about. In turn, understanding what drives us and what we care about can lead us to our purpose, and set us on the right path to pursue it.
As December rolls in and we’re all busy with the hustle and bustle, with Christmas looming in the near future, it can be too easy to get caught up in the stress and worry that plagues so many of us at this time of year. Getting pulled in so many directions at once leaves no time to slow down and appreciate the blessings in our lives. I know that for me, the way to combat this is to focus on gratitude and maintaining the meaning of the season. By bringing out the historical and spiritual aspects of holiday celebrations with your family, you can return meaning to a season which has become more and more commercialized and devoid of purpose over the years.
Everyone knows the Christmas story, but a review of it by having a family skit competition or carolling evening can bring a real sense of love and belonging to your holiday experience. Thanksgiving is also an interesting holiday in part because it is both patriotic and religious, whereas most holidays in America are grounded in either one or the other. That makes it even more potentially meaningful, and I like to try and remember that when planning celebrations. Reading and sharing stories about the journey and experiences of the Pilgrims is a great way to reflect on the tradition and history of the celebration. These stories are also full of important life lessons — from overcoming hardship to making meaningful connections with others, I find plenty of inspiration.
Above all else, you should carve out some time to just be present with the important people in your life and appreciate how much they mean to you. I find this helps me to center myself and re-evaluate what matters to me and what I want out of life. You should ask each member of your family to share what they are thankful for so that everyone can appreciate it and think about all the little blessings they may have taken for granted. At Christmas time, it’s not necessary to completely bow out of the more commercial aspect of the modern holiday which most people in the States celebrate regardless of their beliefs. Giving and receiving gifts is still a wonderful way to show appreciation for the people you love.
I like to challenge myself to do more than just give a card and money or some sort of gift certificate or generic present. I spend the time thinking about what each person on my list might appreciate and find useful. If you have the talent, making personalized gifts is another great way to practice something you’re passionate about while reflecting on what your friends and family mean to you. Even if you don’t have a pre-existing skill like knitting or carpentry, you can look up all manner of DIY gifts online and try your hand at something new and different! Who knows, you might discover something about yourself that you never knew before.
Practicing gratitude like this sounds especially nice around Thanksgiving, but most people seem to forget it goes beyond that. I find that gratitude shifts my mindset — it’s a conscious choice which has changed my life and my business. Focusing on what I am thankful for gives me a proactive attitude adjustment, which is essential for entrepreneurs and anyone else looking to work towards their purpose.
Gratitude also moves me into a “best outcomes” mindset, so that instead of complaining I’m ready to look for solutions and ways forward. That’s useful for both my life and my business decision making. You can overcome obstacles and focus on pursuing your passion with a single-mindedness that is otherwise difficult to achieve.
Finally, adding the meaning back to your holiday celebrations will leave you feeling more positive. And positivity is contagious! I know that when I’m grateful, that positive energy just seems to draw in other people with a similar energy and drive to accomplish things. Then, when we do good work together and if our purposes align, I know I’ve found a new ally on my life’s journey.
My hope is that by passing on what I’ve learned from my experience of putting meaning back into Thanksgiving and Christmas, you can benefit as well. Try incorporating some of these suggestions into your next family celebration and see if it changes anything for you. I think you’ll find that practicing gratitude and reflecting on the meaning of the season will help you discover your purpose and some of the tools you need to pursue it. And what better gift could you ask for than that?
Here’s to a Life of Purpose,