THE BLOG
12/14/2011 12:54 pm ET Updated Feb 13, 2012

The Greatest Gift

I have a bowl with the Ralph Waldo Emerson quote, "The greatest gift is a portion of thyself." One day recently, I placed it on my new coffee table. The next morning, I discovered that my obviously gifted cat, Finnegan, had placed his favorite toy in the bowl. Random? You may think so. Call me crazy, but that just warmed the cockles of my heart through and through.

That got me thinking about the message in that bowl and how wonderful it would be if we actually did give of ourselves -- of the depths of our hearts to delight, rejoice, cheer and warm each other over the holiday season. Presents are nice, but let's face it -- shopping can be a hassle and we so often miss the mark leaving our gift recipients to politely thank us for something they wish they never received.

Other than paying money for gifts, or in addition to it, how about going on a spending spree of loving and caring. What might that look like? What special gifts or talents do you have that you might share this holiday season without calling attention to them as a gift from you? How might you spread some cheer to warm the cockles of some other hearts this year?

Setting the intention of bringing upliftment to others is a great place to start. The power of intention is that we have the capacity to direct our thoughts, emotions and actions. So, how about intending to spread a little cheer -- not just to those on your list of loved ones, but to everyone you meet. Try simply smiling at total strangers when you are out and about. You'd be surprised at how many people light up and smile back at you. Or, when you are in line to pay in the store, make an effort to connect with the sales clerk. Wish him or her a happy holiday as though you really mean it. Again, you might be surprised at how much joy you can bring to others by just making the tiniest of effort.

Consider the relatives or friends you usually see over the holidays who bore you or in some way fall short of how you wish they could be in your ideal world. Do you typically express impatience or disinterest in them? Do you avoid them at gatherings? What if you challenged yourself not to do that this year, but rather to find a way to be kind and compassionate with them.

Is there someone you might invite to your gathering who might otherwise be alone for the holiday? Or is there an elderly neighbor or friend who might welcome a helping hand? Is there a service project you might participate in to help those less fortunate than you?

There are so many ways to give of ourselves that don't cost any money. The price is our time and authentic caring. Setting the intention to bring a little cheer straight from your heart to others is all it takes. The willingness to do creates the ability to do. Even if you have no idea what you could do, just set the intention to figure it out and you will be amazed at the opportunities that show up when you are open to seeing them. These are such hard times for so many people and a little human kindness goes a very long way. Write a heartfelt card to someone. Bake cookies for the staff where a loved one is hospitalized or living. Reach out to someone who has lost a loved one recently and is facing the holidays with a heart full of grief.

Recognize that we are all connected. Don't limit your heartfelt caring to just those who are interesting and fun for you. Expand your circle of kindness and compassion. Be an ambassador of good cheer -- just like my little Finnegan did for me!

Please share your thoughts on ways we can all be more thoughtful and caring with each other over this holiday season. What is your holiday pet peeve and what would be a good antidote? Let's all do our part to share from the depths of our hearts to delight, rejoice, cheer and warm each other over the holiday season.

Happy holidays everyone.

Please feel free to leave a comment below, or to contact me at judithjohnson@hvc.rr.com. You can also retweet this post, share it on Facebook or email it to friends who may enjoy it. To learn more about me, visit my website, www.judithjohnson.com or my Facebook page "Tending to Your Ending." For information on my future blogs, click "Fan" at the top of this page.

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