Christmas is the top-grossing commercial holiday in the U.S. According to ABC News, Americans as a whole spend over $465 billion on Christmas gifts for their friends and family, and that number rises every year. The problem is that this rising number encourages an increasingly materialistic view of the holidays, which can contribute to depression, anxiety, jealousy, frustration, and general unhappiness. This Christmas, your online therapist in Michigan is here to encourage you to focus on the non-material blessings in your life.
Material Gifts Are Not What’s Important
Focusing Solely On Material Gifts Leads To Unhappiness
“Money can’t buy happiness.” We’ve all heard these wise words, but sometimes we have trouble applying them in our daily lives. We know that money can’t buy happiness, but that doesn’t always stop us from splurging on that new pair of shoes or that autographed baseball in the hopes that doing so will bring more joy into our lives.
When we dedicate so much energy towards material things, however, we don’t have much left over to dedicate to the other, more important parts of our lives (our partners, our children, our friends, etc). If the pattern is allowed enough time to perpetuate, putting too much emphasis on material belongings can ruin relationships and overall happiness.
You Have So Many Non-Material Blessings In Your Life
This Christmas, I encourage you to dedicate some time and energy to appreciating the non-material gifts in your life. As an experienced therapist in Michigan, I’m here to help you brainstorm some non-material aspects of your life that are actually incredible blessings. No matter what your position in life is, I’m sure there are at least a few things on this list that will resonate with you:
Until we’ve had a brush with a serious illness or injury, our health is something many of us tend to take for granted. The fact remains, however, that physical health is an unbelievable blessing. This Christmas, take a moment to give thanks for your lack of illness and your body’s ability to function as it should.
There is nothing else in the world that compares to family. It’s an incredible gift that should never be taken for granted or allowed to be forgotten. Whether your family is nearby or scattered across the country (or the globe), I sincerely hope you’ll take at least a few moments this Christmas to let your family members know how much they mean to you.
Your children are a part of your family, of course, but they are so special that I thought they deserve separate recognition. The act of bringing a baby into the world (or adopting a child and raising it as your own) is an incredible gift, the power of which should never be underestimated. This Christmas, make sure your children know how much you love and appreciate them.
Most pet-owners agree that their animals are an integral part of their families, but pets play such a unique role that they deserve special gratitude. The unconditional love and companionship our pets provide builds us up emotionally and provide us with the anchors we need to maintain healthy, stable lives. Spend some quality time snuggling or playing with your pets this Christmas; they don’t have to speak English to understand the message you’re trying to convey!
Friends play a vital role in our emotional and spiritual development. From birthday parties and graduations to weddings and funerals, we share life’s biggest moments with our close friends. When is the last time you told your friends how much they mean to you? The Holidays is a great opportunity to remind them.
Christmas has its origins in the Christian faith, but it is a great time of year to reflect on and give appreciation for your spiritual connection no matter what religion you identify with. Maintaining a spiritual connection is sure to have enormous benefits for your mental and emotional health. Setting aside even a few minutes for prayer and gratitude this Christmas can be incredibly fulfilling.
Parents Are Responsible For Modeling A Grateful Attitude
Before I conclude, I want to point out one important consideration: parents have a big responsibility for role modeling a grateful attitude and instilling the proper values in their children. Families that are in a financial position to do so tend to spoil their children at Christmastime, and while this urge is understandable, I encourage parents to think about the long-term effects their children may experience after consistently receiving a mountain of presents on Christmas.
In time, your children may come to expect this shower of gifts – and if left unchecked, this expectation may grow into disappointment, frustration, and even anger if/when they do not receive the gifts they are anticipating. I encourage you to begin teaching your children at a young age to appreciate the non-material blessings in their lives in addition to their material presents.
I’m Thankful For YOU!
It seems only natural that I should wrap up this particular blog post by expressing my own gratitude. I’m so thankful to be able to practice as a online mental health counselor and to help my amazing clients pursue happier, healthier lives. I’m also incredibly blessed to have my wonderful husband and my incredible friends, family, and clients who have supported me along my journey. This Christmas season, I am thankful for YOU!
Samantha M. Ruth, Transformational Psychologist
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