Holiday ‘Feel-Good’ Gifts of Kindness

Simple “be good, feel good” gifts we can offer over the holidays that cost nothing but mean everything.

It’s that time of the year. The holiday season. A time that should be filled with celebration, grateful reflection and happiness.However, in reality, the holidays are often overshadowed by feelings of anxiety, stress and depression. Too much to do, not enough time or money, long lines, endless crowds and extra tension on family dynamics can leave us feeling tired, irritable and mostly unfestive.Here are a few guaranteed “feel good” gifts you can give that cost nothing but will mean everything:

  • SMILE AT SOMEONE EVERYDAY

Have you ever noticed when you smile at someone (even strangers), they almost always smile back?  Well, it’s not just a coincidence. Smiling has been scientifically proven to be contagious, reduce stress and make us (and others) feel good.

You know the feeling. You’re rushing through your day and, out of nowhere, a stranger gives you an unexpected smile. You can’t help but smile back and somehow feel a little better. It’s a great feeling!

So smile at someone. Chances are you just gave them the feel good “gift” they needed, too.

  • VOLUNTARILY LET SOMEONE GO AHEAD OF YOU IN LINE

When we are in a hurry we can get a bit selfish and even inconsiderate toward others, feeling that our time is more valuable than theirs.

We’ve all experienced the rude person who cuts to the front of the line, which in turn, irritates everyone else, which compounds the stress level, which leads to anger, which may lead to you needing an entire bottle of wine when you finally get home.

However, what if it was good behavior that spread, not bad? There is a wonderful phenomenon known as the “helper’s high” that does just that.

Studies show that one single act of kindness, not only inspires the recipient to do something good for someone else, but also has a ripple effect on those who are watching. It sparks a “feel good” effect that just keeps going. They pay it forward.

So the next time someone cuts to the front of the line, instead of letting your anger take hold, proudly offer to let someone behind you go ahead of you. Not only will it make that person feel great (and smile), but it likely will diffuse the volatility of the situation and even shame the person with the bad behavior into thinking “good” toward others next time.

  • DO SOMETHING THOUGHTFUL EVERYDAY THAT NO ONE WILL KNOW ABOUT

This doesn’t have to be amazing, dramatic or life-changing. It can be as simple as picking up someone else’s dog’s poop when you are walking you own pup, or putting your neighbor’s trash cans away, or returning the stray shopping cart in the parking lot.

You are not going to get a big pat on the back or even a thank you, but all these seemingly insignificant things will make you feel good and will make someone else’s day better.

  • SAY THANK YOU – A LOT

As consumers, we expect a lot from those we buy from, be it retail, restaurants, online stores or service providers. The customer is king and, rightly so. But at times, we overlook a key element in the experience — the human factor.

Pause to remember that those who serve us are people too, not machines. They have lives, emotions and feelings. They have good days and bad days. They are no doubt feeling stressed just like you. So help them and they will help you.

Say thank you” — a lot — and mean it. If you are in person, make eye contact. If you are on the phone, pause, then give them the gift of a smile (yes, they can feel it over the phone) and say THANK YOU. They’ll thank you.

These are only a few simple, cost free, meaningful ways we can experience and share the “be good, feel good” phenomenon, not only during the holidays, but everyday.

Some other simple “Be Good Feel Good” gift suggestions:

  • Compliment someone everyday
  • Hold the door open for someone else
  • Offer to take someone’s picture
  • Give your newspaper to a stranger when you’re done

K.J. Hales (www.ellietheweinerdog.com) is the author of the “Life’s Little Lessons” educational book series starring Ellie the Wienerdog. The first lesson in the series is “It’s Hard to Be Good.”

Ellie the Wienerdog is inspired by none other than Hales’ own dachshund, Ellie.

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