Rituals are a great way to bring the spirit of playfulness and gratitude back into your life. Here are 12 fun, inspiring and spiritually uplifting holiday rituals to try, so enlist a friend or two to take the journey with you.
1. Sometimes it's those little things that make you feel good.
Inhale an uplifting scent like jasmine, vanilla, orange or geranium.
Eat a "happy food" — oranges, mangos, anything vanilla or a good piece of dark chocolate. Carry a "happiness object" — a fun photo, happy face sticker or a small stone that will remind you to lighten up.
2. Put down your phone and take a digital detox.
Take an hour out of your day to turn off your phone, computer and tablets. Now breathe!
Take a nap, walk in the park (no texting allowed), or have a face-to-face conversation with a friend.
3. Throw an exchange party with your friends.
Go through all your old jewelry, shoes, accessories and clothes. Pick out things that you've outgrown because it no longer feels like you.
Invite your friends to do the same, come together and have an exchange party. Everyone can leave with a gift or two and no one has to spend a dime.
4. Make a gratitude jar and then share it with someone.
Think of the people in your life for whom you are grateful. For each person place a coin in a jar. Name what you are grateful for. For example, I place a coin in the jar for my friend Joanne who always encourages me to take risks.
When you are finished, take the money and give it to charity, a friend in need or someone who will appreciate it. Know that you are spreading love and appreciation out in the world.
5. Random act of kindness make for good karma.
It is great to be kind to friends and family, but how about doing something for a complete stranger? Help someone cross the street or buy the person next to you in line a latte. Practice looking at each person you meet as though you were God in disguise.
According to Hasidic tradition: "Every time you help one person an angel is born."
6. Celebrate a new holiday that's unfamiliar to you.
Have you ever been to a Christmas Mass? A Chanukah party? A Kwanza Celebration? If you can't find a celebration to attend in person, find a video that allows you to experience it. Experiment with foods of different cultures. Taste Potato Latkes (a traditional Chanukah potato cake), an English Christmas Mince Pie, or the French version of a Yule log: the Bûche de Noël. You can even sip on some spiced hot chocolate from Peru.
7. Carve out quality time for yourself.
Take time for yourself. Make sure when you are feeling exhausted, over-stretched or over committed, that you actually say "enough" and take some quality time just for YOU. Even if you take 10 minutes to pray, meditate or take a walk, you will find you can make conscious choices about how you can make better use of your time for more energy and focus.
8. Write a good old fashioned letter and send it via snail mail.
Take out a piece of paper or buy a blank card and pick up a pen, and actually write someone a letter. No emails, no texts — a real honest-to-goodness handwritten note for a friend or a family member. Now put a stamp on it and send it out in the mail.
9. Review the past year with mindfulness.
It is always good to see where you have been before moving forward. The end of the year is a perfect time to look over your accomplishments, and take inventory of what you have learned, the challenges you have overcome and the new opportunities that the universe has brought forth. Acknowledge your progress and then, move forward with appreciation.
10. Create an inspiration tree.
You can use an outdoor tree if you live in the country, a strong indoor plant (I use my fig tree), or create one of bamboo branches, wood or anything that touches your imagination. Make ornaments that have inspirational messages such as peace, health, love, and joy, or you can paste pictures on them — for example, paste a cutout picture of a well-toned flexible healthy body, or a photo of a vacation trip you desire.
11. Do something different every day as you count down to 2015.
You can put together a paper chain with links representing the days left in 2014. Each link should have something fun or charitable written on it, like cook a new recipe, re-connect to an old friend or bake cookies for the local senior center. Take off one link a day until New Years, so that every day there's something new to do.
12. Wear red on New Year's Day.
Red symbolizes good luck and happiness. Wearing red can convey self-esteem, confidence and sexuality. I recommend to my friends and clients that they wear brand new red underwear on the first day of a new year, to bring love into their lives. It seems to be working.