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How to Choose the Perfect Gift

How to Choose the Perfect Gift
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It is almost Christmas and many of us are still scrambling around trying to choose the perfect gift for a friend or relative. What do they want? What do they need? What can we buy? We can spend hours in shops asking ourselves these questions. There is another way to select the perfect gift but it involves changing our perception of what gift giving is all about.

The problem is that we think about giving gifts as the exchange of physical objects. A useful alternative is to think of a gift as communication. When you give a gift to someone, what you are actually doing is speaking to them. You buy, make or discover a gift that says something to the receiver. They receive the gift, and if they are perceptive, they understand your message. Of course this is obvious, but somehow we forget it when we go to choose gifts. We focus first on the object or the need, then check what message it conveys.

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You may have realised gifts are communication when someone gives you a gift and you are instantly aware of what it says. Some gifts communicate distance, others intimacy. Some say ” I love your creativity”, others “You should look after yourself”. Some are downright insulting. What gifts communicate is seldom attached to their price tag or their prestige. Some of the gifts that I have appreciated the most have been practically free for the giver to arrange for me, but have said so much that they have been immensely valuable.

If you harness this thinking, when you choose gifts, then you can quickly move towards the perfect gift. Ask yourself first, “What do I want to say to this person?” Then move on to “What can I give them that will communicate this?”. This is opposite to the more common “What can I buy them?” and then “What will they think of it?”.

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This method could help you come up with some slightly off beat gifts, but at least they will be meaningful. One gift that I received recently was given as a result of this sort of thinking. My wife gave me a 1 day ticket of freedom. She took on all of my responsibilities for a day and sent me off to Tokyo to play. She wanted to say that she appreciated everything that I did, and that she understood that my responsibilities were sometimes a burden to me. That helped her to design the perfect gift which was simply a break from it all. I loved it.

The gifts that we come up with when we think of gifts as communication may be the same that we would think of in other ways. The difference may simply be that we arrive at a decision faster and with more certainty that our gift is right for that person.

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Of course, there is a caveat. If you have nothing positive to say to the person, but feel that you must give a gift, then go back to your old ways of thinking. Communicating negative things with a gift, may not be the best way to enjoy your Christmas. Try it only if you are feeling brave.

Merry Christmas!

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Tom

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Last Updated on July 3, 2020

30 Small Habits To Lead A More Peaceful Life

30 Small Habits To Lead A More Peaceful Life

In today’s world, true peace must come from within us and our own actions. Here are 30 small things you can do on a regular basis to increase your overall sense of harmony, peace, and well-being:

1. Don’t go to every fight you’re invited to

Particularly when you’re around those who thrive on chaos, be willing to decline the invitation to join in on the drama.

2. Focus on your breath

Throughout the day, stop to take a few deep breaths. Keep stress at bay with techniques such as “square breathing.” Breathe in for four counts, hold for four counts, then out for four counts, and hold again for four counts. Repeat this cycle four times.

3. Get organized and purge old items

A cluttered space often creates a cluttered spirit. Take the time to get rid of anything you haven’t used in a year and invest in organizational systems that help you sustain a level of neatness.

4. Stop yourself from being judgmental

Whenever you are tempted to have an opinion about someone else’s life, check your intentions. Judging others creates and promotes negative energy.

5. Say ‘thank you’ early and often

Start and end each day with an attitude of gratitude. Look for opportunities in your daily routine and interactions to express appreciation.

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6. Smile more

Even if you have to “fake it until you make it,” there are many scientific benefits of smiling and laughing. Also, pay attention to your facial expression when you are doing neutral activities such as driving and walking. Turn that frown upside down!

7. Don’t worry about the future

As difficult as this sounds, there is a direct connection between staying in the present and living a more peaceful life. You cannot control the future. As the old proverb goes, “Worry is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it won’t get you anywhere.” Practice gently bringing your thoughts back to the present.

8. Eat real food

The closer the food is to the state from which it came from the earth, the better you will feel in eating it. Choose foods that grew from a plant over food that was made in a plant.

9. Choose being happy over being right

Too often, we sacrifice inner peace in order to make a point. It’s rarely worth it.

10. Keep technology out of the bedroom

Many studies, such as one conducted by Brigham and Women’s Hospital, have connected blue light of electronic devices before bed to adverse sleep and overall health. To make matters worse, many people report that they cannot resist checking email and social media when their cell phone is in reach of their bed, regardless of the time.

11. Make use of filtering features on social media

You may not want to “unfriend” someone completely, however you can choose whether you want to follow their posts and/or the sources of information that they share.

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12. Get comfortable with silence

When you picture someone who is the ultimate state of peace, typically they aren’t talking.

13. Listen to understand, not to respond

So often in conversations, we use our ears to give us cues about when it is our turn to say what we want to say. Practice active listening, ask questions, process, then speak.

14. Put your troubles in a bubble

Whenever you start to feel anxious, visualize the situation being wrapped in a bubble and then picture that sphere floating away.

15. Speak more slowly

Often a lack of peace manifests itself in fast or clipped speech. Take a breath, slow down, and let your thoughtful consideration drive your words.

16. Don’t procrastinate

Nothing adds stress to our lives like waiting until the last minute.

17. Buy a coloring book

Mandala coloring books for adults are becoming more popular because of their connection to creating inner peace.

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18. Prioritize yourself

You are the only person who you are guaranteed to live with 24 hours a day for the rest of your life.

19. Forgive others

Holding a grudge is hurting you exponentially more than anyone else. Let it go.

20. Check your expectations

Presumption often leads to drama. Remember the old saying, “Expectations are premeditated resentments.”

21. Engage in active play

Let your inner child come out and have some fun. Jump, dance, play, and pretend!

22. Stop criticizing yourself

The world is a hard enough place with more than enough critics. Your life is not served well by being one of them.

23. Focus your energy and attention on what you want

Thoughts, words, and actions all create energy. Energy attracts like energy. Put out what you want to get back.

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24. Assign yourself “complaint free” days.

Make a conscious decision not to complain about anything for a whole day. It might be harder than you think and the awareness will stick with you.

25. Surround yourself with people you truly enjoy being in the company of

Personalities tend to be contagious, and not everyone’s is worth catching. Be judicious in your choices.

26. Manage your money

Financial concerns rank top on the list of what causes people stress. Take the time each month to do a budget, calculate what you actually spend and sanity check that against the money you have coming in.

27. Stop trying to control everything

Not only is your inner control freak sabotaging your sense of peace, it is also likely getting in the way of external relationships as well.

28. Practice affirmations

Repeat positive phrases that depict the life and qualities you want to attract. It may not come naturally to you, but it works.

29. Get up before sunrise

Personally witnessing the dawn brings a unique sense of awe and appreciation for life.

30. Be yourself

Nothing creates more inner discord than trying to be something other than who we really are. Authenticity breeds happiness.

Featured photo credit: man watching sunrise via stokpic.com

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