Are you ready to make this holiday happier for yourself and others? If you are, I encourage you to do something different this year. Give everyone you meet a positive gift. One that will not require you to wait in long lines, open your computer or cost any money. The present I’m suggesting is simply to ask others some positive questions. Your only investment will be giving a family member or friend your undivided attention while you listen to their answers.
The gift I’m recommending can last anywhere from one minute to an hour. It can occur spontaneously while you connect with a cousin you haven’t seen since last year or more formally by calling a family member or friend and having a positive conversation.
Asking positive questions is a gift because your questions create positive emotions, and increasing positive emotions is the key to having a happier and healthier life. Think about it. If you ask someone about what went well in 2015, that question will focus their attention on positive memories and, as a result, increase their happiness. In fact, I believe the quality of our life is strongly influenced by the quality of the questions we ask ourselves and others.
You can make this holiday happier by learning to ask better questions. You can use the 10 most common positive emotions identified by Positive Psychologist, Barbara Fredrickson, as a basis for your questions. I’ve included some examples to help you think about what questions would be best for you to ask.
Joy – What is one of your happiest memories this year? Gratitude – What are you grateful for? Serenity – What do you do to feel peaceful during the holidays? Interest – What are you interested in now? Hope – What do you hope happens next year? Pride – What have you accomplished in the past that has been a source of pride for you? Amusement – What do you do for fun? Inspiration – Who inspires you? Awe – What do you feel when you see a beautiful sunset? Love – What are some examples of when you experienced love?
While the holidays are a great time for bringing family and friends together, it’s important to remember not everyone is happy this time of year. It could be the stress of the holiday season, the loss of a job or an illness. For some, this will be the first holiday without a Mom, Dad, Son or Daughter sitting down to the family dinner.
Yes…It’s a Wonderful Life…but no one can live without some kind of loss.
If you are going through a major challenge in your life right now and you don’t feel like celebrating this year, please honor those emotions and ask your family and friends to respect your decision. You may need more time to heal whatever hurt you’re experiencing. The greatest gift you can give or receive at this time is unconditional love and acceptance during your healing process.
Let’s Get Better. Together! Bill Durkin