As we are immersed in the holiday season, there are many sentiments that will be shared among friends and family, including love and a genuine sense of good cheer. But the most important feeling to be expressed will be one of gratitude.
How many times have you caught yourself giving from the heart? Not out of obligation or out of duty, but, in giving to others because doing so brings you such an overwhelming rush of happiness that you can literally feel a sense of peace wash over you?
The best show of gratitude is when we are active — when we move and act on our instincts to reach out and express our thanks by doing for others. When we do so, not only do we become a force for good in another person’s life, but we come to know our own blessings, deeply and with meaning.
I felt precisely this way while recently participating in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day Walk with my family. The experience of actively giving to others affected me in a way that I never expected. We walked together. We laughed and cried together to know that we were a part of a gathering of hearts for a single cause, bringing us all together to help others in their struggle for survival. I must tell you, by the event’s end, it was I who felt thankful. Humbled and thankful.
How so? Something stirred within me – within all of us –that made all my blessings so very clear. I have science backing me up on this. Did you know that “feel good” hormones are stimulated when we smile and laugh? It’s true. A study published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences suggests there is actually evidence linking happiness and a sense of well-being to laughter. Let’s just say we smiled a lot that weekend.
My holiday wish for you all is that you will know this same joy of giving. Perhaps you will take part in a toy drive, or cook a meal for an ailing neighbor. Maybe you will open your heart and home to a friend in need this holiday season. However you choose to reach out and touch the lives of others, I can promise that you will feel as though you have been given the gift.
Certainly, this is not a new concept. The spirit and heart with which we love our families and our children is a wonderful starting point. To move from there, in a direction that will touch the lives of others – some friends; some strangers – is easy.
It’s as simple as one small step. One broad smile. A few kind gestures where you open doors for others or stop to help someone load the last of their groceries in the car. Those gestures can grow, you know. They can become larger efforts where you volunteer at a local homeless shelter. Or make a trek to an orphanage bearing gifts.
Whatever you choose, I urge you to dig deep. Share your heart. Bare your soul. And then watch all the blessings impact your life. And when those blessings pour in, share them with everyone you love. And even those you don’t. Then get ready to be filled up with the most incredible feeling of gratitude in the world.