Think About ‘What Ifs…”

Pile-of-Presents

Last week I was at a party where I overhead some kids talking about the presents they either already got or are getting.

How many presents do you get?”

“I think I’m going to get more this year than last year!”  

“What’s the biggest gift card you’ve ever gotten?”

“Can I come over if you get the $500 Hover Board??”

I walked away thinking of another question I’d like to ask them:

“Which presents do you really appreciate, and which ones do you just have?”   

I know it’s hard dealing with kids this time of year. After all, it was shortly after Halloween that the twinkling lights went up and the Rockettes came to town. Suddenly, by the second week in November, it was “beginning to look a lot like Christmas!” And what happens is that the adults want to shop early, and the kids just want.

In fact, I’ll bet if we played WORD association with the kids – you know, where I say a word and they respond – it would go something like this:

Christmaspresents!

Winter holidayspresents!

Happypresents!

PresentsMore presents!

Here is a reminder for parents:

MORE is not always better.

In this ‘gift-giving’ season, I’ve got a few alternative ideas for you.

Parent-and-ChildWhat If…  instead of buying a tangible gift this year, how about giving that which is the most precious – your TIME. Give a FULL DAY dedicated to your child doing whatever he/she wants (excluding buying presents!) Make it a coupon to be redeemed at an agreed time.

What If  you take a portion of the money you normally spend on gifts and decide – as a family – to make a donation or volunteer for a charity. Early Thursday evenings are often the Family Volunteer Time. Alternately, you can go together down to the charity’s headquarters and present the donation in person.

Cookies-on-PlateWhat If  you and the kids bake some goodies and arrange them on a plate. Then ask a child to donate one of his/her small gift cards ($5 Target? Walmart?  All the kids seem to have a lot of them) to add to the plate and present it to someone who would really appreciate the surprise and the attention.


What If
________________.  I leave this one blank because I’m sure you have many of your own good ideas about how to celebrate the season without going shopping.

Consider your What Ifsand back off a bit on buying so many presents. Why not try giving someone the gift of your undivided attention, or volunteering your services to help the needy, or simply surprising someone who would really appreciate it. See how it makes you feel, and let me know.

Happy Holidays

~ Loretta

 Photo credits: CelebelleWilliam Neuheisel (cropped)

Stop Saying “I’m Sorry”

Save “I’m Sorry,” for When It’s Your Fault

Have you ever noticed how some people have difficulty saying “I’m sorry,” while others say it over and over several times a day?  I have.

Stop Saying I'm Sorry

The funny thing about ”I’m sorry” is that it puts you on the defensive.  It immediately admits fault because the person saying it must have something to be sorry for… unless that person is almost always – sorry.

“I’m sorry I bought the last muffin.”
“I’m sorry you are having a difficult day.”
“I’m sorry that it is going to rain at lunchtime today.”

You are not always sorry Sure, there are times when you are responsible for something that caused someone else discomfort or a problem but there are other ways to express your compassion than putting yourself at a disadvantage.

“They should have made more muffins today.”
“Wow, you are having quite a day. Let’s talk.”
“If it rains today, we’ll have our lunch outside tomorrow.”

Save sorry for when you really made a mistake and were wrong.  Then it is definitely time to swallow your pride and admit that you should have acted/said something differently.

There is a Time To Say I'm Sorry

Don’t try to get around it by making excuses or structuring the sentence to reflect the blame: “I’m sorry you were upset by what I did.”

If you did something that was not appropriate or actually rude or simply thoughtless, APOLOGIZE.  Most people have it in them to forgive others.  Just be careful so you don’t have to say “I’m sorry,” too often.

Wilted Tulip

Then you really will be sorry.

~ Loretta

PHOTO CREDITS: © CAN STOCK PHOTO INC. / 2002LUBAVA1981 | © CAN STOCK PHOTO INC. / JACKF | © CAN STOCK PHOTO INC. / SJHULS

Merci

Thank You
© Can Stock Photo Inc. / Nelosa

There is a store in Paris called MERCI.  Those of you who know French know that the word merci means “Thank You.”  To name the store “Thank You” made me wonder exactly what the owners had in mind.

What I learned was that the founders decided that part of the proceeds of their business would “… serve to finance acts of human development, particularly in education, in southwest Madagascar.”   Check out their website and see how they describe their determination to be grateful and give back: www.merci-merci.com.  Here it is explained (in part):

THE ENDOWMENT FUND

MerciEndowment

The endowment fund is supported by the profits generated by Merci, by gifts from the Cohen family as well as by outside donors. More than 300,000€ have already been given to the funds.

Since the end of 2012, more than 900 children have benefited from the pleasure of enjoying a well-balanced daily meal. The medium-term aim is to do everything to integrate education into the heart of this micro-region of southwest Madagascar and to make the school, the only solid and stable institution, the center of a human eco-system that ensures a real development and not just one happy exception in the region.

Entrepreneurial philanthropy is not new. But to take the step to give the store a name that underscores the reality caught my attention. As I walked and looked at the goods, I was impressed. Seeing the word ‘Merci’ everywhere reminded me of their mission. They take being grateful seriously.

I tell my clients to be appreciative and grateful.  I suggest they take a little time every morning to either write down or speak out loud three things for which they are grateful.  (It may start out general/impersonal with “I’m grateful that the sun is shining,” and that’s ok.  It will expand.)

Start doing it  – and ask your family to do the same. (Over breakfast? In the car during carpool?  Before you check your email?)

It’s a little reminder that you – regardless of what’s happening in your life – really do have people/situations/things for which you are thankful. Maybe you don’t own a business but you can make the decision to express your gratitude.  It doesn’t take long, and you will start your day in a much better frame of mind.

I am grateful for you.

Merci.

~ Loretta