Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Making Spirits Bright!


It's mid-January now and the holiday season is well behind us (most of us have even taken down our holiday decor!), but I've been thinking a lot about the positive thoughts that goes along with the holiday season and how it's so often left behind when January rolls around. Instead of making spirits bright, most of us are making resolutions, focusing not on what's happening around us but on what we should be doing in the year ahead. This time of year, it's all about what's going to happen, not what is happening, which is a swift departure from the holiday season, which tends to be focused more on the present (sprinkled with traditions from the past). 
Lately I've been thinking a lot about the phrase "making spirits bright." It's something I never hear any time of the year other than in December, but why? Why not make spirits bright all year long? I say, let's do it! Let's strive to make spirits bright, even in the middle of January (which, in my opinion, is most when my spirit needs a little brightening!). Let's strive to focus not only on what's coming up in the year ahead, but also on what we can do to make today brighter, better, and more positive. 
Here are some of the best ways I can think of to make spirits bright all year long (and especially in this gloomy month of January!). 

Hold the door for people. Say thank you when someone else has held the door for you. Let other cars go in front of you when you're merging in traffic. Image that it's Christmas Eve. How would you react when you see someone rushing, hurrying, stressed out? You'd probably be less likely to be irritated by their behavior than normal because you're in the holiday spirit (or you'd at least understand why they might be overly stressed). Try to keep that spirit with you and act with courtesy and understanding. 

During the holiday season, many people tend to be a bit more cheery (excluding those who are more stressed, which unfortunately does tend to happen sometimes). When feeling cheerful, people are more likely to give compliments, which are like tiny little gifts that are completely free! Even if you're not feeling particularly cheery, try to give at least one compliment a day. It's such a small thing but it can have an amazingly positive impact on someone else's day.
You've probably taken down your holiday cards by now, but think back to a few weeks ago when they were still popping up in your mailbox. Wasn't it so fun to receive mail that wasn't a bill or some trash-destined piece of junk? Snail mail is such a great way to keep spirits bright and it works in two ways. One, it brightens your spirits to write a little note to someone you care about and drop it in the mail, knowing how it will delight him or her to open it. And, two, it brightens the day of the person you mailed it to.

Remember those days when you were in the mall and heard the first snippet of a Christmas carol, a sound that instantly brought a smile to your face? (Maybe that's just me, but any sign of an upcoming holiday makes me smile!) The holiday season adds little touches to the world—lights, sounds, colors, glitter!—that make us smile. The decor might have been taken down, but look around for things that will make you smile. And smile at as many people as you can throughout the day—it will brighten both your spirits and theirs. 

The holiday season is frequently when we think about donating time, offering to volunteer at a homeless shelter or even simply help out at a local school. During the holiday season, we also hear a lot about donating to others—particularly toys—but what about the rest of the year? Consider all of the ways you can donate this month (and every month!) to help brighten someone else's spirits. You can donate things you no longer need or want (perfect for those odd Christmas gifts you don't know what to do with!) or you can donate your time to a local charity. Nothing brightens your spirit more than giving back to others!