The Benefits of Gratitude & Our Holiday Traditions
Would you like to experience more joy? How about better sleep? Does less stress sound good to you? Believe it or not, you have the ability to create this kind of change in your life right now. It all starts with understanding the power of your thoughts, learning how to change your mindset and embracing a life lived from the center of gratitude.
Two men look out a window. One sees mud, the other sees the stars. – Oscar Wilde
Practicing the art of gratefulness is something we want to encourage each and every one of you to do. Not just to help calm the stress of often over the top daily (and holiday) schedules, but to enrich your every day life with a new way of thinking. When you approach your day from the center of gratitude your entire day will shift in a really healthy and positive way.
The Benefits of Gratitude
The benefits of gratitude run deep. The following are just a few things that can shift when you start to embrace this way of thinking!
- Increase in positive emotions
- Deeper and more restful sleep
- A boost in compassion for others
- Stronger immune system
- Healthier hormone balance
- Decrease in overall stress levels
Breaking the Negativity Habit
Our brains are wired to approach life from a place of survival. This means that anything that is wrong or negative will be amplified, for survival’s sake. Unfortunately in today’s modern world, every single element of our day that causes discomfort or stress is brought to our immediate attention. This creates higher cortisol levels, increased stress on our adrenals and leads to exhaustion and feelings of overwhelm.
Living in this state of being can easily overshadow our moments of happiness or joy with a feeling that everything is always stressful. This is why shifting our mindset and making a conscious effort to focus on the positive, every single day, can make a huge difference in your overall health and well being!
So how do we make this change? It’s all about training your brain. Every time a negative thought or stressful situation pops up, try to counteract it with something positive. Training your brain to focus on the good rather than the element of stress. Eventually, you’ll be able to make it a moment by moment habit of being grateful for where you are and what you have. Doing this can have a profound effect on your everyday life and flood your days with a greater sense of well being.
“I am grateful for what I am and have. My thanksgiving is perpetual. It is surprising how contented one can be with nothing definite – only a sense of existence. Well, anything for variety. I am ready to try this for the next ten thousand years, and exhaust it. How sweet to think of! … My breath is sweet to me. O how I laugh when I think of my vague indefinite riches. No run on my bank can drain it, for my wealth is not possession but enjoyment.” – Henry David Thoreau
A lifestyle lived from the center of gratefulness starts with verbally declaring what you’re grateful for.
Try it out! Take a walk around your house and speak, out loud, what you’re grateful for. Perhaps you’re grateful for your family, your children, your friends, the roof over your head. You can even be grateful for the simple everyday comforts that we take for granted; like being thankful for your fridge that stores all of your healthy food, the pillows on your couch that offer support or having clean running water and a warm shower in the morning. Try out this exercise of gratitude and notice how you feel. It’s amazing how quickly your perspective can shift from the negative to the positive.
Creating lists are also a good way to implement an attitude of gratitude. Make a list of the things you are grateful for every morning. Write it all down on an index card and put it on your fridge, keep it on your desk or place a sticky note on the bathroom mirror to remind you throughout the day of what you’re grateful for.
Write a thank you note. If you have someone in your life who has impacted you in a positive way, write them a note to let them know how thankful you are. This not only reminds you of the positive people surrounding you, but enriches their life as well.
We’re Grateful for You
We wanted to take this moment to say thank you for supporting us, for reading our blog and for being our cheerleaders as we aim to uplift and bring the experience of more to the lives of others. You encourage us with your messages and with your passion to live healthier lives. We are SO grateful for you and we hope you’ll be with us along the journey for many years to come.
As we focus on the positive and living with hearts of gratitude, the Elevays team has taken the time to share our favorite holiday traditions with you. We would LOVE to hear about your holiday traditions and the things you are grateful for. Leave us a message below!
From our families to yours, we hope you have a gratitude filled and wonderful New Year!
Natalie Segerson Holiday Traditions
Throughout my life Christmas has always been a special time for family to come together and create wonderful memories that last a lifetime. I have a huge Italian family that has always spent the holidays together surrounded by amazing food. Being Italian, food is family! Now that I am an adult with my own family (my husband Jim, and my son Leonardo who is 1) I have kept those traditions alive while creating new ones along the way. I currently live in Denver, CO where we are blessed with the amazing Rocky Mountains. Our family holiday traditions are now that we spend Christmas up in the mountains. We usually pick a different ski resort every Christmas to spend there enjoying skiing, ice skating, snowmobiling, shopping, and spending quality time with the family. My family loves to come up with us every year. We all pile in the car and head up to the mountains a few days before Christmas. We all rent a huge house nestled back on the mountain. We like to call this our own winter wonderland. It is truly what we feel Christmas should look like. There is nothing like being surrounded by snow, amazing Christmas lights and decorations, you feel like a little kid again visiting Santa’s Village. We usually ski all day on Christmas Eve and enjoy the village. When the day comes to a end and it starts to get dark we come home that night for our Italian dinner tradition of 100% homemade lasagna and a huge healthy salad. That is the tradition that my family has had forever…since before I was even around. Christmas Eve is always grandma’s homemade lasagna. And now.. After a long day out on the mountain, it is the perfect meal. Like eating a plate of comfort! Each time it brings me back to being a little kid. On Christmas day we love to sleep in, open gifts and then head back out for another day on the mountain. Christmas night we always have dinner at the restaurant on top of the mountain. We dress up, take the chairlift all the way up to the top and have an amazing meal together. Once we are done we always come back down to the base of the mountain where there is a huge fire pit, an amazing Christmas tree and have hot chocolate around the fire. Then we come back home and have my homemade Christmas cookies that is also an old family recipe. It’s a perfect way to end the night and spend the holidays together.
Stephanie McCary Holiday Traditions
Traditions weren’t something I paid much attention to growing up. But they were all around me! They laid an incredible foundation of memories that make me super nostalgic when I think back to my childhood.
Once I got married, I really started ramping up my own tradition game! We were a couple of broke, just out of college kids so we did it on a budget!
“Traditions on a budget” stretched me creatively and it was fun finding cheap ways to connect with each other deeper through traditions.
We had a hand me down Charlie Brown fake Christmas tree, we would go look at lights (both free and fun) and we would go shark tooth hunting at the beach. That one was my favorite tradition! We would spend hours with my husband’s family and have a friendly “competition” to see who could collect the most shark’s teeth.
I have a jar of thousands of shark’s teeth from years of teeth hunting with each other. Such a fun memory and tradition!
We eventually left Florida and moved to Texas a few years after we got married. We still go visit our families in Florida for Christmas every year and still go shark tooth hunting. We added a new tradition of doing a polar plunge into the ocean! We line up on the beach, hold hands and run into the water! Then we all scurry out and run back to the blazing warmth of the hot tub. It’s silly, fun and hilarious to hear everyone screaming from the jolt of cold from plunging into the ocean.
I mostly love traditions because of the bond it creates between those you love.
The anticipation of ritual and togetherness. I love that in the midst of crazy schedules, tons of technology that often leads to disconnect that it provides a returning point to connection, familiarity and grounding.
Once we started having kiddo’s it made our traditions even more memorable. I’m a sucker for memory making! Here’s some of our favorite things to do as a family during the holiday season…
- Going to watch a big Christmas tree lighting!
- Picking out our own tree and decorating.
- Driving around neighborhoods to look at lights with a hot tea for me and the hubs and hot cocoa for the toddler.
- All the Christmas music and sappy Christmas movies. We never get tired of them. We can quote Elf with the best of ‘em all year long.
- Our faith is an important part of our lives, we usually go to a Christmas service at church and read the story of Christmas from the bible on Christmas day to our kids.
- Sharks tooth hunting (yes we still go back to Florida and do this each year!)
Traditions don’t have to be fancy or expensive! They can be so simple. The point of tradition in my book is to strengthen the bond between each other. Connection helps us grow, to love and to live. I so hope you’ve enjoyed hearing a little bit about what makes the holidays memorable for me and my family!
Sherri Apple Holiday Traditions
My family traditions are simple and sweet. We focus on food, family and full hearts.
Our main event is on Christmas Eve, where we always try to spend the time together with my parents and grandparents; even as my siblings are all grown up and we have families and children of our own. The house is always full of music as most of us play an instrument and the kitchen is always brimming over with food that my mother and grandmother have prepared. There are presents of course, but the best traditions are the time we spend together, the love we share, the stories told and all of the fun in-between. It’s a season I look forward to every year because of the memories made and the moments I know I’ll cherish for years to come.
One of my favorite things to read around this time of year are the traditional Christmas stories and poems… so I’ve written a short poetic story of our Holiday Traditions to paint a better picture of our time together. From my family to yours, I hope you have a VERY Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!
Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house, every creature was stirring, even the mouse.
If you come through the woods, up and down every hill, you’ll find a warm cabin that’s full of goodwill. Every window is glowing and outside it’s snowing, leaving every heart knowing that Christmas is here. Through the ivy and archways of green, there’s trees wrapped in lights and wreaths to be seen. As you walk through the door, you’ll notice the floor, with every shoe in a row and every package a bow. Under the tree is where they should be, but they were left there by hearts that are filled with glee. The air is warm and cozy, making every cheek quite rosy and the smells from the food roasting have everyone toasting to the feast we will share. Because let’s be honest… we like to eat here. As we wait to be full, the eve is not dull, as every voice sings along to every old song. The tree is of course there, with ornaments placed with care, most of them are handmade with memories to share. There’s a fire in the back, that will roar and crack, while the people full of cheer, share the stories of yesteryear. The chocolate and marshmallows all quickly melt, as the thankfulness for family and a home is felt. All the kids run around and one or two can be found, begging to open presents before we eat the pheasants. But above all the rest, is the reason we’re at our best, to honor the birthday of the King. A tiny baby in a manger, who came to shine His light and set us all free. You see, for us this is the key. It’s not about the packages and bows and all the trinkets in rows. Jesus is the reason we are here, full of joy and full of cheer and He’s why we celebrate this merry day called Christmas, every single year.
Stephanie Matos Holiday Traditions
The holiday season is our family’s favorite time of year. Since we travel so much, this is our first Christmas here at our home in Tampa, Fl in over 3 years so we took full advantage and went all out with decorations and lights. My boyfriend Andy (who I just so happened to meet through Dr. Jones!) loves Christmas more than anyone I know. If it were up to him, our house would look like Clark Griswold’s home in the movie Christmas Vacation! We don’t have a ton of traditions but the ones we have we love. We start off by decorating the day after Thanksgiving (we do this in some way, shape or form whether we are in another country or are staying in an airbnb) so we can enjoy them for as long as possible, the more twinkle lights the better! We also love to watch Christmas movies like Elf, Scrooged, The Family Stone and, of course, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, throughout the month. Two new tradition we just started this year are making gluten-free “ninja-bread” men and roasting chestnuts (which is way easier than I thought!) We are looking forward to spending Christmas Eve with my aunt, uncle and cousins in Clermont, FL and Christmas Day with my sister and her family here in Tampa. Then, only a few days later, we leave, with our 2 furry daughters Sophie and Ellie, for Savannah, GA to spend a week clarifying our goals for 2018 and to ring in the New Year! So excited for Christmas and all of the beautiful things to come in 2018. From our family to yours, we wish you a very happy holiday!
The Jones Family Holiday Traditions
Faith, Food, Family and Fun. Those are the 4 words that we would use to summarize what Christmas is like in our house. More than family vacations, trips to the beach and even birthdays, Christmas is our family’s favorite time of the year.
Because of our faith in Christ it bears tremendous significance for us. In a time where Christmas has been so commercialized, we have to be really intentional about reminding ourselves of why we celebrate. Because above all, our gratitude for what God has done through Christ is the main event.
We love great food! And thankfully, there’s no shortage of decadent recipes that are still in alignment with our lifestyle choices. Each year, the Christmas baking is somewhat of an event. This is something we picked up from Isaac’s family. His mom is an amazing baker and each Christmas she would go all out, baking all of the sweet treats that each child loved. We’ve taken up the same tradition.
The kids love helping make the gingerbread men and decorate them with icing. Their excitement over it all was contagious! Isaac loves shortbread and any sweets that have chocolate. My favorite is sugar cookies decorated with icing and sprinkles.
I had many memories as a kid going to the the Fantasy of Trees (a decorated Christmas tree event) back in my home town in Knoxville, Tennessee. I would always get my face painted and decorate a sugar cookie with icing and colored sprinkles. Looking to recreate a similar experience in a healthier way, I finally found food coloring and sprinkles that were made with natural ingredients and no artificial dyes.
So, this Christmas we had a sugar decorating contest. Our oldest, Isaac, chose the winner. It was dad because of his gingerbread man. The sugar cookie decorating contest is a nod to my past and something we will probably continue each year.
No Christmas would be complete without connecting with our family. It’s a given that the four of us will be together during the holiday season. But we also love to include the grandparents our siblings and extended family in our Christmas festivities. This year Isaac’s parents came to visit from Canada. We had a wonderful time celebrating with them, catching up, eating great food and watching them bond with our boys. It was a really special time.
A lot of our fun around Christmas is around the dinner table. We love trying new recipes, enjoying the comfort food that the season brings as well as each others’ company. We also watch loads of Christmas movies. My favorite is A Christmas Story, Isaac likes Elf and we watch plenty of Home Alone, Polar Express and other holiday favorites. We love curling up by the fire with a big bowl of popcorn and chocolate while we watch a holiday classic.
Anytime we’re getting together with the Jones side of the family, there is also at least one Cribbage Tournament. Though I despised the game at first (because I didn’t understand how to play) I’ve joined in the fun and we all love the smack talk and friendly competition. It’s also fun to open gifts on Christmas Day and watch the wonder and excitement in our children’s eyes as they explore a new gift. But more than anything the time we spend together is what we love the most.
Our family is still very young and I’m sure our traditions will evolve over time, but this is what we enjoy right now…slowing down and being together.