Carrie Steckl earned her Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology with a Minor in Gerontology from Indiana University – Bloomington in 2001. She has spent over ...Read More
It’s the time of year when gifts are at the forefront of our minds. What should we buy Dad for Christmas this year? What will our little nephew really dig? How much should we spend on each family member? And what kind of gifts do I want?
Don’t get me wrong – there’s nothing inherently bad about this. We love our family. We want to make them happy. Giving a gift to someone we care about can be a source of joy for us as well as for the person receiving the gift.
And yet, I want to challenge you to think about gifts in a different way this year. Gifts aren’t only things we buy from companies to pass along to others. Gifts are also the qualities we are blessed with that make us unique and purposeful. The gift of being a great listener to those in emotional or spiritual pain. The gift of physical strength so we can assist those who are frail or ill and need a bit of assistance. The gift of musical or artistic prowess so that we can bring joy to others through our creativity.
And those kinds of gifts can be shared every day, all year long.
Not sure what gifts you have been given? I’d like to offer you a new way of identifying your gifts. Way back when I first started writing this blog, I outlined a seven-point model of wellness for you to think about when improving your own well-being. Now, I’d like you to use that model to think about where your personal gifts lie.
Physical Wellness – Do you consider yourself a health nut? If so, you might have skills and expertise to offer those who haven’t had the opportunity to learn how to eat well or exercise properly. You could use those gifts to volunteer at agencies that provide life skills programs to at-risk families.
Environmental Wellness – Are you more attuned to the outdoors than the average person? Do you have a natural sense of direction and wisdom about how to care for our environment and ourselves while we enjoy it? Consider using those gifts as a trail guide for the park service or as a volunteer with a conservation agency.
Intellectual Wellness – What is your area of expertise? Even if you don’t consider yourself an expert at your paid position, think about your hobbies and interests. Maybe you know everything there is to know about gardening, and that could make a lot of people happy in your community who want to learn how to grow their own gardens too.
Social Wellness – Are you a people person? A great communicator? Someone who can bring people together? I can’t even begin to name all of the ways you could use those gifts to change the lives of others who are lonely, distraught, or otherwise disconnected from the world.
Emotional Wellness – In our increasingly stress-filled world, we need people to show others – through instruction or by example – how to remain calm in the face of chaos. If you are one of those people, use your gift to help calm a person with Alzheimer’s who’s having a rough day or to bring solace to a child who is suffering.
Vocational Wellness – Think about your career path, but also look beyond the skills you use at your day-to-day job. If you’re a good knitter, you could knit warm clothing for the homeless. If you’re great at fixing things, you could help build homes for disabled veterans.
Spiritual Wellness – If you identify with a particular religion or spiritual orientation, and you feel a call to service through this identification, talk to your spiritual leader to see how you can begin using your spiritual gifts to help others who may be searching.
As you busy yourself with the task of gift buying this year, I challenge you to ask yourself, “How will I use my personal gifts in the new year?” Please share your plans here and inspire others to identify their own gifts and put them to good use.