By Jill Scherr, Student at Academy of Art University
The holidays are right around the corner! And while so many people are getting caught up in shopping/parties/etc., it's key not to overlook what's really important and matters most (as cheesy and cliche as it may sound), which is showing gratitude and kindness not only during the holiday season, but throughout the entire year as well.
You can affect the rest of someone's day depending on the way you deal with certain situations. For example, I was doing some holiday shopping recently and a store employee had to look up some information for me to make my purchase process and her terminal kept crashing. Of course I was in a huge hurry (aren't we all these days?), but where do you get by being rude and impatient? I've certainly been there — trying to make ends meet and pay my way through school. I chose instead to chat with her about her holiday plans to pass the time and wouldn't you know the terminal was back up and running before we knew it!
I guess you're wondering what the big deal is, but the girl who was working couldn't have thanked me enough for my patience and told me I was one of the nicest and most pleasant people she waited on all day. I personally wasn't acting any different from how I am on a normal day, but when you are getting screamed at and yelled at by other people/managers/co-workers, it renews your faith that there are some decent people in this world.
I figure we are all working toward the same goal of getting through the holidays, so why make it any more difficult for someone else?
The whole point of showing gratitude or any act of kindness is to know how much our words and actions can affect someone's day and life. Harsh comments really have the ability to stick with us throughout our entire lives in more ways than we can imagine and I don't want to be the person that affects someone's life in a negative or rude way. I've had it done to me quite a few times and to tell it straight … it sucks!
Some great ways of showing your gratitude this season are:
-Spend time with friends and family — even though they sometimes can be a royal pain. Know that tomorrow is never promised and you need to create great memories with them while you can. I can personally attest to this one after my dad had suffered a life-threatening stroke this past summer. We never had a great relationship, as he was an alcoholic and very verbally abusive to my mother and I, but all I could think about were the things I would never get to say to him if he didn't make it and not having the chance to try to heal our relationship. While we have a LONG way to go and it's far from being roses and sunshine, I'm happy that he is here to celebrate this Christmas with me and I intend on sharing my feelings with him before it's too late.
-Volunteer at a shelter for animals or at a local nursing home. You would be amazed at some of the great people and adorable animals you will meet and some of the cool things you will learn about the "good ole days" and our history.
-Remember to smile and try to put yourself in someone else's shoes when dealing with the outside world and the many different situations we have to deal in everyday life. Know that someone else is going through the same thing (and could possibly have it worse than you) and remember to treat them how you would like to be treated.
-Keep a small gratitude journal and try to write in it as much as possible. You can write about anything from family members to having hot water! It will remind you to keep yourself in check and realize not everyone has those same privileges.
The holidays are a wonderful time of the year but can also be lonely and isolating for some people as well. Please remember to be kind to others and have a wonderful holiday season!
Feel free to share your ideas for showing your gratitude in the comments below.
Image: Felixco, Inc. / FreeDigitalPhotos.net