12/13/2013 12:33 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

12 Days of Christmas Conversation Starters


Savoring a moment of discovery comes easily to children.

Troubled by the prospect of hashing over old ground with relatives over the holiday season?

Try these diversion tactics if the conversation gets a little rocky. Infused with positive psychology, they are designed to help you and the person you are talking to get a lift in mood and set you up to enjoy a more lighthearted time together. Pick your favorite or try them all.

1. What was something that made you laugh this year?

2. What news from a loved one were you happy to hear?

3. What's gone well for you this year?

4. What three things are you grateful to have in your life?

5. What's your favorite relaxation activity?

6. What do you love trying to get better at?

7. How have you helped someone this year?

8. Who warms your heart when you think of them?

9. What do you appreciate about yourself?

10. What kindness can you show towards someone close to you, so that they have a happier holiday?

11. What are you going to make sure you slow down and savor this holiday season?

12. Who would like to know how much they mean to you and when can you let them know?

What I love about this activity is it packs a mighty punch of good stuff to our hearts and brains -- combining the evidence-based psychology of flourishing, mindfulness and neuroscience all in one. It is an opportunity to practice:

Mindful listening
Sympathetic joy
Focusing on and savoring the good
Appreciation and gratitude
And good old-fashioned laughter

Happy holidays, everyone.