H.O.L.I.D.A.Y: An Acronym to Help You be More Thankful

A few weeks before finals, my mom asked me to send her my Christmas list, for which I laughably responded, “How about some financial stability?” She laughed too, but told me I seriously needed to give her and my dad some ideas for what to get me this year. This made me remember being a kid and writing a 5-page list with every toy, craft kit and weird contraption possible; each being something I, “absolutely needed!!!” Now, I sat there as a dumbfounded adult, not quite sure what I really could need. I ended up writing some ideas down, but nothing stuck out to me in the way little Hannah would have been excitedly scrawling in marker and glitter on her Dear Santa letter. 

This feeling got me thinking during my first few days back home for Winter Break. I started to reflect on how much my parents have given to me and my younger sisters over the years, despite not always deserving it. Like most other parents, they love us so immensely that even though we have definitely misbehaved and let them down in the past, they continue to give everything they can to us. With the exception of doing chores and aiming for good grades, they never expect anything in return. 

Realizing this fact throughout my years being a college student has made me feel so much more grateful for everything I already have; all the things not on that Christmas list. How can I express this gratitude though? I mean, you can’t always say, “Thank You!” and expect the person to truly understand how appreciative you are.  

So, I decided to make an acronym for showing and/or giving more gratitude to the people in your life: H.O.L.I.D.A.Y! In each conversation or situation with another person you find yourself in this holiday season, think, “How am I giving or showing {fill in the blank} in this moment?”

H: Help

How am I giving or showing help in this moment? 

If you’re sitting on your butt and notice your mom needs help cleaning, or your dad needs help cooking, jump in and lend a hand. If it’s not physical help, maybe it’s emotional by being there for someone who needs a friend to talk to. Actively think about how you are giving back to everyone who has given to you.

O: Optimism

How am I giving or showing optimism in this moment? 

Sometimes when around big groups of friends or family during the Holidays, we can become really negative and not realize it. People may try to be humorous when they feel uncomfortable or awkward, and end up poking fun at another’s expense. Little do we realize, we actually can hurt someone’s feelings a lot. That’s definitely not a way to show gratitude, so instead, think about how you are staying positive during conversation. Even if other people are being negative or maybe making a joke about you, still aim to be a better person by focusing on spreading kindness. 

L: Love

How am I giving or showing love in this moment?

Love is something we all appreciate during the holidays, but not everyone we encounter might be receiving it like we have. Try to reach out to those who you’ve lost touch with. Give to someone who is cold out on the streets. Volunteer somewhere that needs an extra hand. Tell your parents how much they mean to you. Send a heartfelt card to a dear friend. Pay for the car behind you at a drive-thru. It could be anything! Just do something to show you are trying to give back that love that you’ve gained over the years.

I: Interest

How am I giving or showing interest in this moment?

It’s easy for us to sometimes stop paying attention to someone or a situation and “check out”. We play on our phones, we think about all of our to-dos, and we don’t give that person or moment our time of day. Instead, try to think about contributing at least one though-provoking comment or expression of interest to this other person or situation. It could be something like, “Wow! I have never thought about it that way!” or “Interesting…How do you think this connects to me as a college-student?” (etc.). Even just nodding along and showing non-verbal cues is a way to show your interest and respect to the other person speaking. 

D: Demeanor

How am I giving or showing my demeanor in this moment?

This is another important one in my book. Especially around the Holidays when you are receiving presents and gifts, demeanor plays a HUGE role in expressing your gratitude for others. Yes, sometimes we get not-so-great gifts, but you don’t need to be the Grinch about it! Be thankful someone thought about you and spent their time and/or money putting something special together. There’s no worse feeling than giving to someone being so excited for them to open it for them to react negatively or show extreme dislike/disinterest in it. That feeling SUCKS, and I know because I have felt it before! Don’t do that to someone this season, so actively think about how you are reacting to opening a card or gift. You should aim to show genuine gratitude no matter what it is!

A: Appreciation

How am I giving or showing my appreciation in this moment?

This seems simple, but we don’t actively think about it moment-to-moment. What are you actually saying to people when you thank them? Think about other ways to say “thank you” by adding more meaning and personalization. Instead, say things like, “Mom, I really appreciate when you do {insert action here} for me. It means a lot and makes a difference for me day-to-day. I love you!” Change it how you like based on the person and situation. 

Y: Yourself

How am I giving or showing myself in this moment? 

This is the very last thing to consider in the HOLIDAY acronym, and personally, I think it’s the most important. Recently, I watched this video online that made me take a step back. It’s definitely worth the watch. We sometimes get so caught up in ourselves that we forget about everyone else. We think the world revolves around “me me me” and thus end up acting that way. Try to think about how you can behave more selflessly each and every day. 

That’s all you need to use this H.O.L.I.D.A.Y acronym this year. Give it a try and let me know what you think. It sure has made a difference for me, maybe it will for you. 🙂

Happy Holidays!!

 

Written by Hannah Garrett on 12/21/2017

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