- Did you journey far or hit many detours?
- What could you have done differently?
- How can you improve next year?
- Most importantly, where could you have gone astray yet stayed the path?
by: Michelle Sutton-Kerchner Although meant for joy, the holidays may surface feelings of remorse, loneliness, and stress. And, that's often in the name of accomplishing joy. Redefine this year's holiday season. Cultivate that brighter world you're dreaming of ... This time of year, we usually share gift ideas for the fitness fanatic in your life. We include ideas for the wannabe fitness buff-- that person who tirelessly tries to get fit but stumbles with everything from lost sneakers to missing motivation. [caption id="attachment_8302" align="alignleft" width="246"] Give the gift that lasts.[/caption] Presents are great. The anticipation. The wrappings. The thought (that should be) behind them. Yet, after the exchanges, we are left with things. And, everyone who has experienced the gentleness of a hug or a pat on the back knows things cannot fill voids. This year, make your offering one of peace and gratitude. Presents, and even deeds, will be forgotten. People, including strangers, never forget the way we make them feel. Wish Lists Maybe it is time we learned from the innocence of children. Make a list of wants-- and go after them with fierce determination. Well-managed, desire can be a catalyst for a healthy, happy life. If peace on earth is your wish, don't discount your role in obtaining it. It's as within your reach as losing those last 10 pounds. (Don't be cynical. That is possible, too.) Start with your personal well-being. Nourish yourself with gratitude. By acknowledging life's blessings and what we possess in this life, we invite wellness to dwell within us. Whether today's challenge is battling illness or trying to afford a special holiday present, sit for a moment with all you already have. [caption id="attachment_8304" align="alignright" width="240"] Decide to be a winner.[/caption] Note the member who suffers from arthritis and emerges from a light aquatic workout feeling rejuvenated. S/he may not have accomplished a swim meet or kickboxing class, but is a winner just the same. This person finds happiness and fulfillment in acknowledging and praising the gift of movement that many take for granted. Contemplating this brings a new level of awareness to our lives. Priorities become redirected to focus not on what is needed, but on that which already exists. The Positive Psychology Movement proves the effectiveness of gratitude in reducing depression. One study of participants who suffered depression required them to keep a daily gratitude journal. Three items for which they were grateful had to be recorded at the end of each day. [caption id="attachment_8308" align="alignleft" width="300"] Notice your blessings.[/caption] After only a few weeks of tracking, their depression significantly decreased. Trying to decide which three things to choose as the day transpires is a simple act that provides ongoing focus on the positive. Look for the good-- in any form-- and you'll be determined to find it. An Attitude of Gratitude Once you realize all you have, sharing it with others makes the ideal present, year-round. It has a great return policy: The more you give, the more is gifted back to you. It is one present that makes a great regift. Cultivating gratitude helps create optimism and satisfaction. It deflects our minds from that which may be missing in life and refocuses on the good that surrounds us. Frustrations and disappointments fade, which allows inner-peace and contentment. This is not to diminish a person's acute feeling of loss during the holidays when a loved one is missing or a home is demolished by recent harsh weather. It is hope that the sad realities of life can be softened by recognizing the good, by being thankful. Share this quality. Give generously this holiday season. This gift does not have boundaries. It's free, yet priceless; it doesn't require a trip to the store and wrappings; it fits any heart and can be given to all. There are many who touch our lives on a daily basis. The friendly smile on your daily commute, the barista who knows your unspoken coffee order, the check-out clerk-- give, give, give. There is no limit to the joy you can bring through a simple statement of gratitude. [caption id="attachment_8310" align="alignleft" width="150"] Go ahead. Make his day.[/caption] Take "thanks" a compliment further. Add how and why this person's actions or words help you. It may feel awkward at first, but the bright reaction can quickly become your seasonal addiction. Who needs egg nog and cookies! Thankful for Fitness With a new year approaching, it is time to forget any 2012 fitness-goal shortcomings. Evaluate your year in sneakers: