Advertising
Advertising

How to Take Christmas to a Whole New Level

How to Take Christmas to a Whole New Level

20091214-christmas-present

    Our children love certain toys or brands and they make their lists for sure, however, I suggest that we parents do something a little extra special at Christmas.

    Advertising

    Christmas is such an exciting time. Family and friends gather together to laugh, eat great food and share gifts with each other. What could be better? There is one way parents can make Christmas even better and that is by giving their children a present that is a tradition.

    Advertising

    My parents always gave us presents that we had asked for however my mother always bought us a new pair of pajamas. We were just as excited to see what type or color we would be getting that year. It gave warmth to our Christmas celebration and deepened the connection we had with our mother. My father saw how happy we became, even as teenagers when we opened the special gift from “MOM”, so he decided to start his own tradition. He bought five different types of Scratch n’ Win Lotto tickets for each of us and after all the other presents were opened we sat at the dinner table and used pennies to scratch away. We have continued this tradition throughout boyfriends and now husbands.

    Advertising

    It is really wonderful to watch our faces after we have opened the gifts because we all know what is coming next! One year, during the last recession, we lost the two restaurants that my family owned. There were no presents under the tree that year, dinner was tapered down, and there were no Scratch n’ Wins to scratch. Going without the presents was easy, and eating a little less was fine. The one thing we all felt melancholy about was the fact that we could no longer do our special tradition after dinner. It’s silly, really. We never win much, maybe ten dollars, but it was the consistency we missed and the hollers of, “Whoo hoo, I won a dollar!” that we missed. Of course we had other traditions that we continued like playing board games until the wee hours of the night, but it just goes to show how special and cherished traditions are for people and children especially.

    So, here are some gift ideas that you can use to begin a family tradition and add more warmth to your family’s Christmas experience.

    1. Books, novels
    2. Calendars
    3. Funny or colorful socks
    4. Crafty toys
    5. Scientific toys
    6. Bookmarks
    7. Slippers
    8. Christmas ornaments
    9. Wallets
    10. Something with the 1st letter of your child’s name (pens, pads of paper, notebooks, pencils, books, socks, picture frames, calendar, key chain, wallet) The ideas are endless and will always keep your child guessing!

    Christmas is a magical time where family is the focus. Deepen the bonds you share with your children by adding a special tradition. I promise you that when your child remembers holidays past, in ten years time, it won’t be the toy they asked for that they will remember, it will be the one that their mom or dad always gave them.

    Advertising

    More by this author

    8 Reasons Why Children Misbehave (With Solutions!) 5 Ways to Spend Time with Your Kids When You Have No Time The Top 10 Things Children Really Want Their Parents To Do With Them 2 Simple Ways to Be a Happy Parent The One Thing That MUST Be on Your Holiday To Do List

    Trending in Featured

    1 The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain) 2 How to Stay Motivated and Reach Your Big Goals in Life 3 How to Take Notes Effectively: Powerful Note-Taking Techniques 4 How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators 5 50 Businesses You Can Start In Your Spare Time

    Read Next

    Advertising
    Advertising
    Advertising

    Last Updated on July 17, 2019

    The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

    The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

    What happens in our heads when we set goals?

    Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

    Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

    According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

    Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

    Advertising

    Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

    Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

    The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

    Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

    So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

    Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

    Advertising

    One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

    Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

    Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

    The Neurology of Ownership

    Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

    In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

    Advertising

    But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

    This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

    Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

    The Upshot for Goal-Setters

    So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

    On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

    Advertising

    It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

    On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

    But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

    More About Goals Setting

    Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

    Reference

    Read Next