During one of her shows a few years back, Oprah Winfrey made a profound and beautiful statement that I appreciated very much. She said, “We do shows about lots of ‘stuff’ and my ‘favorite things,’ but what people want more than anything else is to know that they’re appreciated. . . that’s the best gift of all.”
At this time of year it’s easy for us to get caught up in the stress of getting everything on our list crossed off, preparing for parties and events, and rushing around to buy last minute gifts. And, if money is tight, there can added stress when thinking about what gifts to get for family members, friends, co-workers, and others.
Instead of just giving “stuff” for the holidays this year, what if we gave the people in our life the most meaningful gift of all; our appreciation? Let the people around you know what you appreciate about them and why.
What do you value most about your best friend? What is it about your kids that you really appreciate? What do you love best about your spouse? How does your co-worker or your boss make your job and life easier and more fun?
Expressing our heartfelt and genuine appreciation for the important people in our life is magical and it’s essential to our ability to create happiness, fulfillment, loving relationships, healthy families, successful teams, and productive communities. Appreciation is also an important element of effectively dealing with the stress of challenges and uncertainty that so many of us are facing these days.
This year, our holiday gifts can be expressions of true appreciation which will have real impact on our relationships and make our holiday season one to remember. Here are three simple suggestions to make your holiday gifts and your holiday season special and meaningful:
- Write cards of gratitude. In addition to (or instead of) giving actual presents, take time to write heartfelt thank you cards letting the people around you know what you appreciate about them and how they have impacted your life this year in a positive way. Express your appreciation genuinely, specifically, and personally – in a heartfelt way.
- Ask people what they really want. Giving something specific that someone really wants will have them feel appreciated and valued. It doesn’t have to be expensive, as long as it’s personal to them. And, if you ask them directly you may find out that what they really want is something simple that can’t be bought or doesn’t cost money.
- Give the gift of your time or service. Make a list of a few important people in your life and instead of buying them something, call and ask each them if there is some project they’ve been putting off or procrastinating that you might be able to help them with. Schedule time to come over to their house or support them specifically in getting that task or project accomplished.
Remember what most people want, more than almost anything else, is to know that they are loved, valued, and appreciated. Appreciation truly is the best gift we can give to the people in our lives (for the holidays and at any time of the year).