The holiday season is a time of great joy, but for many people it is also a time of pain and darkness. This year the ‘holiday blues’ may be even more pronounced, as many more people are grieving the loss of a loved one, feeling the financial strain of the pandemic, or are not able to travel to spend Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Year’s Day with family. Dr. Peter Kleponis, a regular Morning Air® contributor, explains that despite these difficulties, gratitude can play a key role in battling the holiday blues.
Explaining what he means by gratitude, Dr. Kleponis said, “Gratitude is simply having a profound appreciation for all the blessings in our lives. It’s very simple. It’s recognizing all the ways we have been blessed by God in our lives and having this very deep appreciation for it.”
The past year seems to have provided a constant barrage of bad news. But Dr. Kleponis pointed out that if all we focus on is the bad, it can actually lead to more trouble with our relationships and mental health.
He said, “People often say, ‘Look at all the bad stuff in the world!’ And there is a lot of bad stuff. But if that’s all you focus on it’s just going to lead you down the path of depression and anxiety. We have to keep in mind all the negative things in the world, but also recognize how God blesses us every day.”
Particularly around the holidays, we may focus more on what isn’t there, rather than seeing the blessings that we do have. We think if we just had more time to shop, more money to buy gifts, more people to spend the holidays with then we would be happier. But this mindset can actually bring about the holiday blues.
Dr. Kleponis said, “I think all of the ‘demands’ of the holidays can bring about these holiday blues. But when you stop and think about all the ways you have been blessed and all the things you are thankful for in your life, it brings you to the reality that all of the running around and the craziness of the holidays is really unnecessary. What is true is giving thanks to the one who is the giver of all things. That’s definitely going to help a person feel better. You can’t help but warm your heart when you do that.”
But gratitude isn’t just a state of mind. Gratitude begets generosity. Because once you recognize how many blessings you have been given you want to share those blessings with others. The act of sharing and being generous stops you from being just focused on yourself, and allows you to love others as Christ loves us.
Dr. Kleponis pointed out, “When you live in gratitude you recognize how tremendously you’ve been blessed in many ways. And blessings cannot be kept to yourself. A blessing has to be shared. I believe that anytime God gives us any kind of a blessing, he wants us to share that blessing with other people. And that gets you outside of yourself and focusing on other people, so you’re not looking at all you don’t have. Instead, you’re looking at all you do have and how you can share that with others.”