On Christmas morning we slept in a bit finally getting up around 8:30.
With Christmas carols playing in the background and sipping on warm beverages, we each took our turn opening our gifts to and from each other.
In the end, each of our family members received some very kind and thoughtful gifts from one another.
We sat around for some time after all the gifts were opened, telling stories of remembrance, and piling up the used wrapping paper, ribbons and bows.
As our tradition, most of the opened presents were carefully replaced under our tree as a display for all to see.
It was a good year for us, so most, if not all, of the items on our Christmas lists were now found under our tree.
I was the recipient of some really thoughtful gifts from those I love.
As I reflected on the scene before me, I also realized that some of the gifts I received weren’t under our tree... and in fact weren’t given to me by friends and/or family members...
They were instead gifts that I had given to myself over the course of time... gifts that I am eternally grateful to have received at one time or another...
The gift of Good Health
Like most items on this extended list, the gift of good health can’t be given to you by anyone other than yourself.
We were born with only one body so it needs to be constantly maintained. Our body must support us with strength, stamina, energy, power, and vitality allowing us to go where we want... when we want.
This gift to ourselves requires sacrifice, discipline, and hard work. It’s doing things that take only effort and will power.
Maintaining good health consists mainly of three components:
Eating well, exercise and hygiene.
Application of all these three elements of good health must be regular and consistent, it can’t be on one day and off another. They need to be habitually practiced day in and day out.
The importance of a living a healthy lifestyle cannot be emphasized enough...
Good health is the starting point of everything that we do... and we should never take it for granted.
The gift of Continuous Learning
Second only to maintaining our bodies is maintaining our minds.
In the same way that our bodies need daily exercise, our brains have a similar need to be strengthened, stretched, and toned.
Our minds need to be worked hard each and every day through complex problem solving, puzzles and creative thinking. Only in this way will they remain active and alive.
Many studies have shown that even people with a genetic disposition toward mental disease such as dementia or Alzheimer’s can fend off the debilitating effects through a program of mental training and exercise.
No one but yourself is capable of gifting you a keen mind.
The mind and the body are a team that must be nourished, strengthened and stretched.
The gift of Humor
Laughter reduces stress, lowers you blood pressure, releases "feel-good" chemicals, like endorphins and dopamine in your brain and increases the oxygen levels in your blood which helps to provide the body with higher energy levels.
Laughter starts with the ability to laugh at yourself and the absurd situations that we often find ourselves in.
Anger is the enemy of laughter and rarely do the two coexist together.
When we laugh... we have a hard time concentrating on our problems and our fears.
While others can help to make us laugh... we need to be willing to allow ourselves latitude to feel joy that only the laughter can bring.
The gift of Attitude
Much has been written and discussed regarding the power of a positive mental attitude.
Believing that we can do something is the first step of actually doing it.
Fear and self-doubt will try to prevent us from starting something great.
Other people, sometimes even our friends and family, will criticize our dreams instead of offering us encouragement. They will often mask their criticism by telling us that they don’t want to see us get hurt or that they are just trying to offer us "objective advice" or "constructive criticism".
The best gift we can give ourselves is a positive attitude that will carry us forward despite those people or situations that try to hold us back.
We need to shut out the nay-sayers and the fear-mongers out of our lives surrounding ourselves with people who will offer us support and encouragement as we take the steps to move forward toward our dreams.
The gift of Gratitude
Although we’d all like to think of ourselves as self-made men and women, for the great majority of us, much of our success is the direct result of other people assisting us along the way.
This cast of helpers includes (but is not limited to) our parents, friends, teachers, mentors, coaches, service providers, employers, customers, and Good Samaritan strangers.
Many of us were fortunate enough to be born into a relatively safe community, with clean drinking water, abundant food, and free from many deadly diseases.
We are often afforded the opportunities to go to school, to learn new skills and find meaningful work.
Our communities are led by a government and a system of laws. While our democratically elected system is not perfect, is also not outwardly corrupt as to force its citizens to pay bribes to its officials for protection and basic services.
We are all extremely fortunate to be afforded liberties, rights, and equalities under the laws of the land by means of a protected and enforced constitution.
Again although not perfect, we arguably have the best healthcare system in the world that provides basic medical care to everyone.
Most importantly, we have unlimited opportunities to follow our dreams and aspirations. We were not born into a caste system that prevents us from achieving upward mobility regardless of how much someone learns and works.
The pursuit of happiness is available to all of us regardless of how we define our own version of "happiness".
For all of these things and more, we should give ourselves the gift of gratitude and appreciation.
Although there may be plenty of gifts under our trees, the gifts of health, learning, humor, attitude and gratitude can only be given to ourselves by ourselves.
These are the gifts that allow us to live an enriching and fulfilling life... the gifts that allow us to give back... the gifts that keep giving...
Thank you for your support of OptiFuse where we are forever grateful for the gifts that our friends, vendors and customers bestow upon us...
Jim Kalb President
Email - firstname.lastname@example.org
Website - www.optifuse.com
Blog - www.optifuse.blogspot.com
Twitter - @OptiFuse