I recently asked my daughter what her favorite part of the holidays is, and she surprised me with her answer. She said, “Because everyone’s happiness level finally matches how I always feel!” If you knew her personally, you would know that is about right. She is a happy person, bubbly and always excited about something!
She went on to explain that many times she feels that those around her are unhappy or seem like they are, and she feels stifled, like it would be rude of her to be really happy around them. Except during the holidays, everyone puts aside their stresses, or at least ‘showing them’, and are all around friendlier and happier.
She’s only 13, so I was still half-expecting the receiving of gifts to be her answer, or a fun family tradition like baking cookies, so I was both surprised and pleased when her answer was much deeper.
Why is it that we are happier, nicer and more generous during the holiday season? It turns out this question has been asked many times and answered many different ways. This time, I turned inward to find an answer. What I found were just two reasons my joy, and possibly yours, increases during the holiday season.
Gratitude and Giving.
As I considered these two reasons, I realized they are very dependent on each other. When you have gratitude for all the things and people in your life, you have very little trouble giving to others. As you give, you become ever more grateful for what you have, which in turn prompts you to continue giving. And so the cycle continues.
Culturally, we are conditioned to give most in November and December each year. We drop money in red cans outside of stores. We add an extra few dollars onto our grocery bill at checkout for the local food bank. We do gift exchanges with co-workers and have other wants and needs on our mind as we shop for gifts. Taking these actions sparks the cycle of giving and gratitude, which comes to a grand end on Christmas Day.
This year, I’ve decided to make giving a yearlong endeavor, not just something that happens the last 10 weeks of the year. There are so many worthy causes we can donate both our time and our money to support. Doing so not only will help them immensely but it will also keep the joy of the holidays in our lives year-round, which will make you, and my daughter, happier!