Tuesday, December 15, 2009

What gift will you give?

It's that time of year when many of us are caught up in the hustle and bustle of last-minute holiday shopping. I'm attending a conference this week at the Gaylord Opryland Resort. The halls are decked and it is a sight to behold. The place is busy with tourists and shoppers. As I watched people go about their busyness, I thought about Christmas, work and life in general.

If you work, you'll notice some people get in a quandry about what to give their boss or co-workers. Many times we spend our hard earned cash on meaningless tokens given out of obligation and not from the heart.

I have been joking with friends and family about material things I want, like a pannini maker, a puppy or an espresso machine. But when I honestly reflect on Christmas, I have a list of what I'd really like to give and get. These gifts do not have a monetary value, so everyone can afford them. These gifts do not have a shelf life so they may be used at anytime throughout the year. Here's my list:

The gift of humor: Laughter draws people together. Whether at work or with family and friends, take a minute to laugh together. Avoid laughing at someone else's expense but laugh outloud. A hard, belly laugh. Research has proved laughter has positive side effects on health,longevity and long term relationships.

The gift of listening: At home or at work, listen carefully to what people say. The topics that are important to them will often come up in casual and professional conversations. Ask questions and really listen to the answers. You may not be able to solve the problem but a listening ear can ease the burden for another person.

The gift of attention and time: We live in a world of instant gratification. There's never enough time to get everything done. Instead of doing three things at once, mentally slow down and be in the moment with your family,friends and co-workers. (Yes, I'm talking to myself on this one). Is there someone in your life telling you what's bothering or worrying them? Give them your full attention. It makes them feel valued and you'll understand them better. Life is too short not to make time to slow down, connect and forgive.

The gift of thanks: Adopt an attitude of gratitude. Do you have a job? Even if you dislike the people and the work. You are belssed to be employed. Be thankful for that. Take a moment to send a card or verbally thank those who helped you in some way this year. Make it a practice next to write down weekly or evenly monthly a few things you are thankful for. It will be amazing to look back on the list after one year.

The gift of prayer: You can always pray for someone who is going through a struggle. You can also offer a celebratory prayer for someone experiencing good fortune. Either way, it takes your mind off of you and allows you to consider someone else. Pray for those who irritate you or those you find less than pleasant to be around. There may be something else deeper going on with that person. Don't allow petty differences to get in the way of your personal or professional relationships. Forgive them and move on.

My Christmas wish list includes:

May we celebrate our individual beliefs without apology.
May we seek solutions to disagreements by honestly communicating.
May we ask for support when we need it.
May we offer to support someone else when they need it.
May we surrender to the truth and forgive others when they wrong us.
May we avoid negative influences and the wagging tongues of gossip.
May we seek to grow, serve and be an example of the greatest gift of all!