Q. What is it about the holiday season each year that makes us exhibit an attitude of gratitude even though we are more hectic at this time of year?
A. Showing gratitude is one of the simplest things we can do to light up another person. It is the deliberate actions like smiling at everyone you encounter. Or asking questions to learn more about someone. And certainly donating to a worthy charity with a gift of your time or money shows gratitude for the work that organization is doing.
Q. Dr. Martin Seligman, a former president of the American Psychological Association, in his book “Flourish” talked about the power of a “thank you” that is done with intent and meaning. He and his colleagues found health benefits derived from an expression of gratitude done “in a thoughtful, purposeful manner.”
A. When we quickly and automatically say “thank you” it is meaningless. Saying it with an action of eye contact, or adding verbally why we are thankful makes it sincere. Writing a letter, sending a hand signed card or an email about why it mattered to us, makes the receiver pause and feel a positive benefit.
Q. What about giving? Giving without expecting an equal return? Paying it forward anonymously?
When the elves are making the toys and gifts, we don’t look at it as a job, we look at it as part of a process. The process includes bestowing love onto the parts and blessings onto the finished products. The months of making everything flies by because we are excited for when everything will be ready for me to take to the skies! Now, through giving, we feel energized, ready to experience even more extraordinary moments of connecting with others. Taking away, instead, or seeking to control and manipulate, isolates a person into their own drama and disconnects them from humanity.
Q. You meet so many children and adults with so many requests! How do you manage it all?
A. Well, the good thing now, is that we have a server with a lot of memory at the North Pole now. And some of the elves have taken a shine to learning about computers. So this digital age has enabled me to record the requests on my cell phone and upload them to be organized geographically and by requester. We still receive letters but now we receive emails also.
Q. There is a new book out: The Giving Way to Happiness: Stories and Science Behind the Life-Changing Power of Giving by Jenny Santi. In it, the author talks about the connection between giving and happiness. In your travels around the world, have you seen this connection in action?
A. Oh, my, yes! Last year, when I was in Ireland, everyone had finished working by noon on Christmas Eve. Lots of people were out and about. They were singing, dancing and helping others. There was a lot of giving going on. They looked very happy from spending the afternoon helping people. Of course, some had to be helped home too after a visit to a pub or two!
Q. You spread joy around the world during December. What can we do the rest of the year to give thanks, spread joy, and show gratitude?
A. Look outside of yourself. Spend time with your family. Appreciate your job. Give thanks to your creator. Communicate clearly. Ask how you can help. Take time to give thanks sincerely. Listen to your intuition. Strive to always learn. Be a friend. Practice kindness. Keep your word. And always do your best!
Santa Claus lives at the North Pole when he is not delivering gifts on Christmas Eve. He oversees the toy making workshop year around. He is married to Mrs. Claus. He works closely with the elves and keeps the reindeer physically trained for the annual trek around the world.
Jean is a certified senior-level human resources executive/consultant, adjunct professor, management trainer, professional speaker, resume writer, career coach, and published author.