It’s easy to focus on all the things you want to own, create, or experience, but research shows that appreciating what you already have may be the key to living a healthier, happier life. And you can’t argue with science. Here are five ways that feeling grateful can improve your health:
1. Gratitude can boost your level of life satisfaction.
Want to feel happier? Write a thank you note! According to research done at Kent State University, increasing your level of life satisfaction may be as easy as writing a letter of gratitude.
2. Gratitude can strengthen your relationships.
Just taking a few minutes every day to tell your partner one thing you appreciate about him or her can go a long way towards strengthening your bond.
3. Gratitude can improve your mental health and vitality.
Despite the challenges you may be facing, whether a medical condition, job stress, or weight-loss challenges, taking time to recognize what you’re grateful for (whether it’s in a journal or simply consciously noting it) can help you maintain a positive outlook and boost your energy levels.
4. Expressing gratitude can help you sleep better.
Taking just a few minutes before bed to write down or say aloud a few things you’re grateful for might help you fall into a deep slumber.
5. Gratitude can help you stick with your workout routine.
If feeling grateful can boost your energy level and happiness, help you get a great night’s sleep, and improve your relationship, it’s no surprise it can help you stick with your workout program, too!
Argentina: Do not give knives or scissors as they indicate a desire to sever a relationship.
China: At New Year, gifts of money may be given in a red envelope. It must be an even amount, using an even number of new bills. Traditionally, the red envelope should not be opened until the holiday is over, or bad luck will follow.
Czech Republic: Upon receiving a gift, it is customary to politely refuse the gift and wait for the giver to insist. Once the giver insists, then you may accept it.
Egypt: Always give gifts with the right hand. Both hands may be used if the gift is heavy.
Germany: Christmas celebrations begin with the advent on the eve of December 6 which is known as “Nikolaustag” or “St. Nicholas Day”. On this night, kids put their shoes or boots outside the door in anticipation of getting them filled with treats by St. Nicholas, the patron saint of children.
Greece: Many homes in Greece will keep a fire burning during the 12 days of Christmas in order to keep the sprites from entering the home.
Italy: Christmas gift giving occurs on the 12th day of Christmas, Epiphany. As the story goes, the three wise men stopped by the abode of La Befana, inviting her to join them. She refused but later changed her mind and set out to find the Christ child. According to legend, she is still searching and everywhere she visits, she leaves gifts for the children in hopes of finding the Baby Jesus.
India: Wrapping paper – red, yellow, green or other bright colors.
Japan: Oseibo is a major end-of-year holiday that began from the custom of placing offerings on ancestors graves. Today, gifts are typically given to friends, colleagues, teachers, clients or customers, and to anyone he or she is indebted to. Oseibo gifts are typically sent out by December 20.
Mexico: The poinsettia is native to Mexico and believed to have first been used in connection with Christmas in the 17th century. Legend has it that a little boy named Pablo was walking to church to visit the Nativity scene, and realized he had nothing to offer the Christ Child. He gathered some green branches and laid them by the manger, and a brilliant red star-shaped flower appeared on each branch.
Morocco: Avoid the colors pink, violet, and yellow in gift-giving as these are associated with death.
New Zealand: The spirits and creatures of the Maori culture resemble elves and gnomes and play an important role in celebrations. Since Christmas falls in the summer here, many will hold Christmas dinner outside with a traditional Hangi barbecue. Some will follow the Maori tradition of having a Hangi, where a hole is dug in the ground and filled with hot stones; after the meal Christmas carols are sung.
Portugal: The family sets up a Nativity scene, called Presépio, with Mary, Joseph, stable animals and the Three Wise Men. The Christ Child is not added to the scene until after the family attends Midnight Mass. On Christmas Day, the Portuguese visit friends and family enjoying a meal together, usually turkey, chicken, or lamb.
Russia: The most important dish for the Christmas Eve feast is a special porridge called kutya, made of wheat berries or other grains which symbolize hope and immortality, and honey and poppy seeds which ensure happiness, success, and untroubled rest.
Scotland: By far the biggest holiday in Scotland, New Year’s Eve, traditionally known as Hogmanay, believed to have received it’s name from the original pagan celebration of the winter solstice. Later, due to the church’s ban on Christmas, it was typical for Scots to work on Christmas day. Before midnight on the 31st, the house is cleaned and all debts are cleared. “First footing” (that is, the “first foot” in the house after midnight) is thought to ensure good luck for the house and should be a male bringing the traditional gifts of whiskey and shortbread.
South Africa: The focus at Christmas, in mid-summer, is on religious celebration. Gift giving is conservative; i.e., a new suit or dress to wear to church for Christmas services. Rather than snow, the beauty of the season here is marked by spectacular flowers. Homes are elegantly decorated with pine branches, Christmas firs, and stockings in anticipation of Father Christmas.
Ukraine: The most popular holiday is New Year’s Eve, celebrated December 31. It is a family-oriented holiday, and the President gives a speech moments prior to the clock striking twelve, then people drink champagne and fireworks fill the sky. Father Frost and Little Snowflake deliver gifts.
Vietnam: Tet is a holiday described as Christmas, Thanksgiving and your birthday all rolled into one! Much of the celebration centers around good luck, and gifts focus on Vietnamese symbols of good luck. Homes are cleaned prior to Tet, but never on the first day of the New Year so as not to “sweep the luck out.” Games, gambling, fortune-telling, and dragon dances are popular activities.
Wales: Caroling is particularly popular in Wales where it is called eisteddfodde and is often accompanied by a harp. In some rural areas a villager is chosen who travels around the town draped in white and carrying a horse’s skull on a long pole. Anyone given the “bite” by the horse’s jaws must pay a fine.
To read about more countries’ traditions, visit this website, “Traditions Around the World.”
Burnout is a real risk for small business owners. Here are 12 tips to follow if you think you’re at risk.
2. Make the time to do nothing! We all need to take time to relax, refresh and replenish. Don’t keep pushing yourself. Keep regular business hours and take breaks during your work day. Make sure to schedule in time off and vacations on a regular basis. You’ll come back with a fresh outlook and perspective.
3. Get back in touch with the things you value. Is your work fulfilling and meaningful for you? If not, check in with your values. What’s missing? Where are you compromising? What needs to be eliminated? What are you merely tolerating? Re-assess and re-adjust your priorities as needed. If you work for yourself, you’re in control. Make the choices you want to make by honoring what’s important for you.
4. Think out of the box and challenge yourself consistently. If work has become a chore or you’re in a rut, try spicing things up a bit! Find innovative ways to do mundane tasks, create new products or services to add to your offering, improve performance, or tweak what you do best and make it even better.
5. Establish realistic expectations for what you can and cannot accomplish. If you find that you’re driving yourself or your employees too hard it may be time to let go of unrealistic expectations and readjust. Shorten your to-do list, give yourself some slack when needed and know when to let up on yourself and others.
6. Learn how to communicate clearly. Resolve conflicts, don’t run from them. Let people know what you expect from them, and ask them what they expect from you. Be clear and concise with what you say, and how you say it. Listen closely to the people around you, it will teach them to listen closely to you.
7. Manage your time. Poor time management is another thing we do that leads to burnout. Set regular business hours. Make appointments with yourself to get things done – and keep them! Being on time counts, show up promptly for appointments and expect others to do the same.
8. Stop blaming yourself or others. If you’re playing the “woulda, coulda, shoulda” game, perhaps it’s time to re-evaluate your attitude. Blaming yourself or others for things that have gone wrong doesn’t help. What does? Learn from your experiences and make changes to ensure that you get the results you want the next time.
9. Value yourself by establishing boundaries and limits. Learn how to do it in a way that clear and consistent. Don’t give away too much of your time. Let people know your policies and procedures. Be upfront with what’s acceptable and what’s not. Learn how to say no.
10. Deal with your emotions. Keeping your feelings inside usually leads to trouble. If you are feeling any kind of negative emotion, don’t deny it. Instead, learn how to acknowledge your feelings, be up front with them; and deal with the underlying causes.
11. Laugh, smile and enjoy the ride! Life is too short to worry and be serious all the time. Find ways to make your work fun and enjoyable.
12. Don’t feel embarrassed to ask for help. Everybody needs a little help once in a while. You can’t do everything yourself. Don’t be afraid to ask friends or associates for help, or hire a professional when needed.
Click here to see one of the first commercials for Carnation Instant Breakfast, introduced in 1965.