The countdown to Christmas is on and we are all looking for the perfect gift. Holiday shopping creates a lot of stress as we try to meet expectations and still be a frugal Santa. A recent survey showed that more than 75% of people find buying gifts difficult and more than half of the people said Christmas was a stressful experience. That kind of takes away from the magic of the season, doesn’t it?
There is one gift you can give people that doesn’t require shiny paper or ribbons and bows. In fact you don’t even need to go shopping because it’s a gift you make yourself. Hands down its better than anything you find at a toy shop or electronics store. Best of all it’s a one size fits all for your entire list and they are guaranteed to appreciate it.
The stress-free secret to your holiday shopping is this:
Give everyone on your list a gift of presence.
Now more than ever, this is the gift that everyone needs.
So what does that mean?
It means you make a commitment to being present and paying attention when you are with another person. Not necessarily as easy as it sounds.
We are living in a state of continual partial attention. That’s a side effect of our crazy busy lives and our addiction to multi-tasking. While that takes a toll on our productivity and efficiency, the far bigger impact is on our relationships.
We all know what it is like to be on the receiving end of someone’s inattention. We know when others are distracted while they are talking to us. We know what it feels like to take second place to a ringing cell phone. One incident of not really paying attention might not be a big deal, but the continual distracted way we treat others slowly and steadily erodes the quality of our relationships. It lessens our connection not only to the people we love but the world in general.
So how do you gift the gift of presence?
Put aside your technology when interacting with other human beings. Checking your email or Facebook status while you are with someone sends a clear message that the virtual world is more important than the real world.
Be aware of when your internal conversation is getting more of your attention than the conversation you are having with someone. Notice when you begin to assume you know what they are going to say. Listen with the intent of understanding rather than planning your next response.
Do one thing at a time. When you are with your loved ones, stop multi-tasking and give them your full attention. Little kids excel at this. Learn from them.
Make an effort. Send an actual card, not an e-card. Call someone rather than text. It might take a little longer but it has much greater meaning.
The other great thing about giving the gift of presence is that you get a gift too. You will feel more connected and more appreciated, and time will seem well spent.
Here’s the caution:
This is a gift that takes far more effort than the swipe of your credit or a click in an online store. Things that are worth it usually do. Start small. Pick one person who deserves your undivided attention. Or choose an activity like meal times and commit to being present during them.
Remember this holiday season, and all year round, your loved ones need your presence far more than you presents.
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