Holidays can bring out the best in us, but it’s also a time that’s often full of stress, emotional triggers, and feelings of being overwhelmed. Though one of the ways we show appreciation and gratitude for people is by giving them gifts, if we’re too focused on the acquiring of material “things” (and the nerve-racking, often budget-stretching process of finding the “perfect gift”) we can lose sight of what the holidays should represent. What can you do to ratcheted down the stress and experience exchanging gifts with a sense of serenity?
When you give with consciousness, you are thinking about what people really need, not just adding to the accumulation of “stuff.” What can someone truly use in a practical, joyously satisfying way? Is there a gift that would have great long-term value and remind the people on your gift list of what is important in their lives, and in the lives of others? Giving your time, instead of an object, can be deeply meaningful. How about baby-sitting while your friend has a night out, or volunteering for an organization that they care about?
Would giving to the greater good be a wonderful alternative gift for someone? There are plenty of ways to make donations in people’s name. JustGive.org is a one-stop destination for a multitude of charities. Along with making a gift donation in someone’s name, you can purchase a gift card on the website for your friend or family member to make a donation to the charity of their choosing. There’s even a search engine to locate non-profit organizations by category, or location, which can steer you to a charitable cause in your own community.
In striving to be more conscious about our lives, and the impact we make on the world around us, how we choose gifts during the holidays is a fantastic way to practice mindfulness. You’ll find that when you set out to give with consciousness, you will not only show someone that there is depth and meaning to the tradition of sharing, but that you will experience less stress, worry, turbulent emotions and conflicted feelings about the entire process of holiday shopping.
To remind you of what is really important to embody at this time of year, why not give yourself a holiday season challenge? Do an act of kindness, consciously, every day for the entire month of December! By helping others, you also help yourself in so many surprising and life-changing ways.