What is the best gift you can give this year? Surprise, it’s YOU!
Whether you’re giving to your family, your friends, or to yourself, the most meaningful gift you can give is your time and undivided attention.
Research is increasingly uncovering the benefits of mindfulness. By being present, you can actually increase your focus, improve your physical and emotional fitness, reduce stress, and boost both your memory and your mood! These benefits arise because with practiced mindfulness, you now have more control over your thoughts. You are not so swept up in the whirlwinds of your life that each day passes you by in a blur. You can see things clearly, you can understand what your priorities need to be, and you can treasure multiple moments, big or small, in real time, each and every day.
Imagine a conversation with your partner or a friend, where neither of you have a phone within sight. Can you picture what that scene might look like? What that conversation may entail? And I’m not talking about to-do lists, or how to divide up the shopping, or schedules. Imagine what a real conversation would bring to that moment. When you can be fully present in your relationships, loved ones will feel heard, and you may find you’ve sparked a renewed emotional connection. When you turn off your phone, and other distractions, you can focus on living in the moment. This is not an easy thing to do, as we are all so very busy, and there do seem to be worries and distractions at every turn. However, as we all know, just because something is not easy, does not mean it’s not possible.
Practicing mindfulness takes, well, practice! One of my own personal favourite practices is to make a “To-Feel” list in the morning, in addition to my “To-Do” list. Check in with how you’re feeling when you wake up in the morning, write down three things you want to feel that day. Then choose moments throughout the day to check in with that list to see if you’re making decisions that support those needs you identified that morning. Often our work and responsibilities force those needs aside, and you will need to mindfully get yourself back on track. Take a break from screens and just enjoy some “you” time or take time to hang out with others – screen free! Go for a short walk, take an extra long shower, enjoy the process of making your sandwich, ditch the multitasking during meals, and savor the flavors in front of you.
Wrapping up a game for your child for Christmas is a fabulous idea! But the real joy, the true gift of that game, is the time you get to spend together playing it! Learning how to be more present is essential to appreciating your daily life. Don’t let time slip by, especially around the holidays. As Tony Robbins says, “Life is a gift, and it offers us the privilege, opportunity and responsibility to give something back by becoming more.” So give of yourself this season. Spend uninterrupted time with yourself, your friends and your family. Look inward to rediscover all of the beautiful gifts you have inside of you, and share them!