Practice kindness, gratitude, and awe beyond the holidays

There are defining moments in life that bring forth a sense you’re part of the universe in ways much bigger than yourself. You can experience awe and wonder at the birth of a child, healing of disease, mystery in science, surviving a tragic accident, catching a fish, friendship, gazing at stars in the sky, encountering wildlife, feeling the calm of a gentle stream, or the intense power of a great waterfall. The holiday season also provides many chances for you to experience a connection to something much larger than yourself. It helps to take time away from your busy life to reflect and connect to a deeper meaning through rituals, community gatherings, family traditions, sharing of gifts and love, or service to others too.

However, amazing experiences and moments of transcendence can get lost in the daily grind. It’s easy to fall into the trap of taking life for granted or mindlessly rushing from task to task. The demands of daily life have a way of taking over and wearing you down. But what if you could see daily activities through a spiritual lens, rather than as things that get in the way or chores that are just part of the ebb and flow of existence? Is it possible to experience deeper meaning in ordinary, everyday life?

Take a moment and consider the following list:

  • Grocery shopping and meal prep
  • Housework and yard work
  • PT
  • Guard duty
  • Changing diapers
  • Zeroing a weapon
  • Rush-hour traffic
  • Getting your kids ready for bed
  • Land navigation
  • Walking your dog
  • Taking out the trash
  • Bathing and getting dressed
  • Brushing your teeth
  • Work

At first glance, none of these might seem particularly spiritual or even things you might look forward to. While the activity itself might not be important, it might have more to do with the way in which you carry it out, those who are impacted, and the memories you create along the way.

Appreciation is a window through which you can see riches in everyday life.

To see routines as spiritual can bring new meaning to your daily grind. It can help connect you to a greater sense of purpose in your everyday activities too. Try to show kindness and gratitude to help reframe these daily tasks and have more meaning and joy in your life.

Share kindness with others

During the holidays, you can practice kindness by serving others or donating food, clothing, or money. You can host a family dinner or give thoughtful gifts as well. Keep in mind being kind to others doesn’t just help those you’re serving: It also helps you find joy, enjoy stronger relationships, and have better overall health.

The more you practice kindness, the easier it becomes and the more you gain. Try to share kindness in your everyday life beyond the holiday season too. Do random, small acts of kindness for others and reflect on the impact you’re making. For example, cutting your neighbor’s grass becomes more than just an extra chore added to an already busy schedule. It might be a way to bless and encourage someone going through a tough time. Hassles—such as cleaning dirty handprints off a door or picking up an endless stream of toys—can instead become a way to appreciate your toddler learning to explore the world. Even housework or picking up trash alongside a road can be an expression of care for what you’ve been given.

Connect with gratitude and awe

Throughout the holidays, many rituals and ceremonies provide chances for you to be grateful for what you’ve received, express gratitude to those who have helped you, and feel connected to others and the world. To experience awe helps you to focus more on serving the greater good and be happier. Similarly, regular practice of gratitude helps you develop a stronger connection with others, and it can strengthen your spirituality and humility.

You can connect with others and the world through awe and gratitude in your everyday life. For instance, you can connect with nature during a PT run. Or maybe push yourself out of your comfort zone to experience something new. You also can enhance your thankfulness by reflecting on what you’re grateful for during your commute to work or discussing best parts of the day at dinnertime. Or try to find other ways to grow your gratitude in your daily life.

The eyes of the heart are opened through gratefulness. Appreciation is a window through which you can see riches in everyday life. There’s a tendency to not fully realize something’s value until it’s missing. A thankful heart transforms the ordinary and allows you to savor and cherish every day in a meaningful way.

Resources

Gander, F., Proyer, R. T., Ruch, W., & Wyss, T. (2013). Strength-based positive interventions: Further evidence for their potential in enhancing well-being and alleviating depression. Journal of Happiness Studies, 14(4), 1241–1259. doi:10.1007/s10902-012-9380-0

Lyubomirsky, S., Sheldon, K. M., & Schkade, D. (2005). Pursuing happiness: The architecture of sustainable change. Review of General Psychology, 9(2), 111–131. doi:10.1037/1089-2680.9.2.111

Passmore, H.-A., & Holder, M. D. (2016). Noticing nature: Individual and social benefits of a two-week intervention. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 12(6), 537–546. doi:10.1080/17439760.2016.1221126

Piff, P. K., Dietze, P., Feinberg, M., Stancato, D. M., & Keltner, D. (2015). Awe, the small self, and prosocial behavior. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 108(6), 883–899. doi:10.1037/pspi0000018

Shiota, M. N., Keltner, D., & Mossman, A. (2007). The nature of awe: Elicitors, appraisals, and effects on self-concept. Cognition & Emotion, 21(5), 944–963. doi:10.1080/02699930600923668