Are you grateful for the gifts you received this holiday season?
Hopefully, if you wanted an iPhone 4S (affiliate link) and didn’t get it (or got something you didn’t want), you were not devastated like these horribly ungrateful individuals. For more humorous commentary, consider comedian Jim Gaffigan’s thoughts on getting unwanted gifts. If you did receive a gift for which you are not grateful, remember that somebody always wants — or at the very least could use — what you have.
Also consider that, during the “holiday season,” consumers bravely endured pepper spray on Black Friday, delivery drama for items ordered online, travel trauma, and the frenzy of family feuds. Why? To purchase the “perfect” gift for you (just as you might have done for others). Interestingly, despite the many challenges with which consumers were presented, in addition to the overall economic uncertainty, shoppers came out in force this past holiday season.
According to a December 15, 2011 Associated Press article, “the National Retail Federation…now expects holiday sales for the November and December period to rise 3.8 percent to a record $469.1 billion.” The article further elaborates, “the projected gain is still below the 5.2 percent pace seen during the holiday 2010 season from the prior year, but it’s well above the 2.6 percent average increase over the past 10 years.”
Impressively, despite the odds against it happening, consumers collectively spent nearly one-half trillion dollars buying goods and services that, were it not for the holidays that necessitated the purchases, those items would have most likely never been purchased. And now, with the holidays fading into the past, everyone is turning their attention to their soon-to-be-forgotten New Year’s resolutions.
When it comes to resolutions, people often list grandiose goals they intend to accomplish and, much like expectations for gifts, often the reality doesn’t match the fantasy. So, how can you start this new year with intention and reflection? My suggestion is to instead make a list of three gratitudes — three people, experiences or things for which you are thankful and:
- Provide a foundation upon which you can build your life;
- Whose presence in your life gives you direction;
- Act as wings that lift you through tough times.
Similarly, Chris Brogan encourages people to “forego the idea of a resolution, and instead, to come up with 3 words that will help you define your goals and experiences for the coming year” with his “My Three Words” meme. So, what are my “three gratitudes?”
- My Sons: My boys, Jacob and Max, are my inspiration and motivation. Whenever I am with them, my heart fills with joy and my life is filled with meaning. Both have overcome — and continue to work through — unique obstacles, but they do so with grace and gumption. Their presence fills me with pride, love, and laughter.
- My Friends: I have a small core of friends — maybe 5 really strong connections, mostly from my undergraduate years at UCSB, but one or two from more recent years. While small in number they have provided me with unconditional support that has made a large impact.
- My Career: Henry David Thoreau is quoted as saying ‘Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.’ I interpret this to mean that most people spend their lives pursuing practicality while foregoing their passion. While both are important, I am grateful to have transitioned into teaching, a career that is both challenging and rewarding.
Those are my three gratitudes… what are yours?