Dr. Agnes Ip
As family and friends gather this season, you may wish to see below for four tips on cultivating gratitude and creating interpersonal harmony.
1. Take inventory of your possessions
Christmas is often characterized by excess spending. But before you go on a shopping spree, or create your wish list, consider what you already have—clothes and other possessions—that you may not really use, that may be sitting there collecting dust. Spend a few hours cleaning out old items and donate what you don’t need to individuals or charities. You will realize how much you have and how blessed you really are.
2. Give a creative gift
You’ve heard it said that the best gifts in life cannot be bought. Sometimes the best gift you can give someone is not the most expensive but rather the most thoughtful gift. The important thing is knowing the person you’re giving a gift to. A few ideas include creating a picture slideshow that plays to your friend’s favorite song, writing thoughtful messages, baking, etc. For a practical person, you can give service vouchers and include 30-minute massages or whatever services you feel would benefit.
3. Don’t compare yourself to others
Comparisons are the killer of joy. When you compare yourself to someone, you are elevating either yourself or the other person, by judging who is better. Imagine attending a potluck and someone comments on how your food tastes, “Too salty!” Sometimes people will take a comment like this personally, or offensively, especially if the comment is negative. Instead of criticizing how someone’s food doesn’t taste good to you, respect that people may have different tastes and thank them for their efforts. When you express appreciation for someone, you needn’t fear that you are elevating the person above yourself. Your self-worth doesn’t increase or decrease because of another person’s talents or abilities. In fact, admiring someone can put you in that person’s favor, because people like to feel appreciated.
4. Ask the right questions
When we gather around the dinner table for Christmas, we often get many questions: How much did you spend on home repairs? How’s your husband’s job? How are the kids doing? Did they graduate and find a job yet? What’s really happening beneath the surface of these questions, on a subconscious level, is you’re making comparisons. What you’re really asking are the unspoken questions: Is my property worth more than yours? Does your husband earn more money? Are your kids doing better than mine, academically or financially? Instead, try asking open-ended questions about the person’s interests, dreams, talents, knowledge, and experiences in an effort to get to know that person better. Remember, asking the right questions is important to building relationships. When you make others feel that you genuinely care about them and what matters to them, they will naturally want to talk with you and will appreciate you for listening. Seek to give positive comments and genuine encouragement, and you will be able to create a warm, happy holiday gathering.
Editor’s Notes: The holiday season is a time for gatherings. These gatherings are even more precious during the pandemic. However, experiences often tell us that this season can also be a time filled with pressure and tension – the pressure of time and money, and the tension created because of different expectations from people.
“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Proverbs 4:23.
Ask the Lord to help you and I to guard our hearts. Especially during the holiday season, it’s easy to compare ourselves to others and have unreasonable expectations for ourselves and others. Always speak with sincerity, care, and appreciation. Give thoughtful gifts from the heart and out of love, not for the sake of saving face. We hope that you get inspiration from Dr. Ip’s sharing and have a memorable and warm holiday this year.
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