The Enchanted Outlook



How to Get the Most out of Your Holiday Gifts


It’s five days after you have opened your holiday gifts. The new bike has been ridden. You’ve eaten all the candy. You totally forgot about the scarf your sister gave you, which has been lost in the back of your closet. Your bath fizzies may still have fizz, but you have already lost yours.

Has this ever happened to you? Even the joy from your very favorite gift of all time doesn’t last forever. This is because of something called Hedonic Adaptation, also known as the Hedonic Treadmill. Hedonic Adaptation means that our brains adjust to new situations, both good and bad. It means that, even when really terrible things happen to us, our brains have a chance to be able to cope. Unfortunately, it also means that even if we were to win the lottery, we would not have unending happiness. We would just become accustomed to our new life circumstances. In this case, it means that it doesn’t take you long for you to adjust to your new presents, even if you have been given a great abundance.

Instead, what can be helpful to lasting happiness is participating in small intentional activities on a more regular basis. I touched on this concept when I talked about “Little Treasures,” small useful items I purchase weekly. With this in mind, instead of enjoying my gifts all at once, I keep them in bags and take out one thing a day. I like to start with the stocking stuffers unless there is something else I really need. So far, I have enjoyed two pieces of candy, a bath bomb, and a ring. Think of it like a reverse advent calendar. I have done this for the past three years.

Savored like this, my gifts last well into January; sometimes even February. Every time I take out a little something, I am reminded of the person who gave it to me and how they care about me. This gives me a deep feeling of gratitude. So, if you are a person who finds your holiday gifts losing their color after a few short days, consider giving this a try. It may seem a little odd if you are used to the euphoria of swimming in a sea of gifts right off the bat, but it will make perfect sense to your brain’s happiness in the long-run.

Happy Travels

This week, a lot of us will be traveling to visit family. Travel can be stressful during the best of times. During the holidays it can be a nightmare. I have a few suggestions as to how to make the trip a little more enchanted.

  • Start before you leave. Plan ahead. Pack only what you know you will need. Take your time. Take a little breather once you have finished packing so you won’t  start your travels feeling rushed.
  • Practice mindfulness. Try to be present. Notice the scenery around you. What would you do differently if you were driving or riding or flying for the sheer enjoyment of it rather than as a means to get from here to there?
  • Use the opportunity. Is there a book you have been wanting to read or listen to on tape? Maybe a favorite magazine you don’t usually indulge in? An album of holiday music to put you in the mood?
  • Look for opportunities to practice kindness. If you are looking at big crowds and long lines during your travel, perhaps the opportunity will arise to give someone a hand, hold a door, give a smile, or strike up a nice conversation with the person waiting next to you.
  • Remember gratitude. It’s not always easy during this stressful time, and it is certainly okay if you are feeling stressed as well, but you may find that practicing a little gratitude can lift your mood. Maybe for you it is gratitude for the meaning behind the holiday you are celebrating, or the opportunity to spend time with loved ones, or simply having the means to travel.

What do you do to make your holiday season a little more enchanted?

Daily Gratitude: Yucky Weather


It is such a beautiful day today where I live. The air outside is apple crisp, the mountains are painted red, orange, and green, and a light breeze is making the fallen leaves dance, as if they are enjoying the weather, too.

I was going to write about how grateful I was for beautiful weather. But then, I thought, I wouldn’t have appreciated a day like today if it weren’t for the bad weather we had been having: the unusually hot days for late fall, or the torrents of rain, or the week the temperature randomly dipped and it was super cold. Every day has its own special gift, but if every day were just as beautiful as today, I wouldn’t appreciate a day like today for what it is. So today, I am thankful for all the yucky days that made me sit back today, take a deep breath, drink some eggnog, and enjoy.

What are you grateful for?

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