5 Tips For More Memorable And Joyful Social Gatherings This Holiday Season
Holiday Edition, Part 1
I hope you’re having a fantastic week.
I returned to my home city of Toronto, Canada on Monday after travelling in Central and South America for 64 days. It feels great to be home, especially for the holiday festivities.
December is my family's favourite time of year.
The holiday season is full of warm emotion, good food, and quality time spent with those you love most.
But just like any area of life, planning and preparation are critical to your success ― however you define it. So, instead of letting this December unfold randomly, I’m experimenting with strategies to maximize my enjoyment and health.
Today we’ll cover 5 tips to enhance the quality and enjoyability of your social interactions this holiday season so that everything from the holiday office party to time with your loved ones is more memorable and cheerful.
Next week’s newsletter will cover tactical approaches for a healthier and more productive December.
I hope you join me in experimenting with these strategies.
Here are 5 tips for better social gatherings this holiday season:
Tip #1: Give and Get Thanks
Gratitude practices can be immensely beneficial.
Giving and receiving gratitude, especially the latter, can reduce the activation of fear and anxiety circuits in your body and brain, improve your mood, focus, and sleep, and reduce biomarkers of inflammation.
In my own life, inspired by Gabby Reece, I’m trying to “go first” more.
“...I’ll go first. If I’m checking out at the store, I’ll say hello first. If I’m coming across somebody and make eye contact, I’ll smile first. If people would experiment with that in their life a little bit, be first, because – not all times, but most times it comes in your favor. The response is pretty amazing.”
— Gabby Reece, American pro volleyball player, sports announcer, fashion model and actress (The Tim Ferriss Show)
To receive gratitude you must first give it.
So, practice going first and giving without expectation. The world will smile and reward you handsomely.
Tip #2: Be Genuine
When you give gratitude, make sure those receiving it really hear you.
Break the shackles of societal norms and communicate heart-to-heart with the person you are grateful for. Your sincerity and intention have a direct correlation with the level of positive impact your words have on the person receiving your gratitude.
Give thanks but do it with honesty. It matters.
Tip #3: Share and Recall Memories of Gratitude
Humans are social creatures.
We’re wired for social interaction and are constantly evaluating the emotional state of others.
Listening to or sharing stories of others receiving help or gratitude activates pro-social circuits that improve our mood and overall health. This explains why social media videos of people helping each other or animals go viral on the interwebs.
Look back through your year for stories where someone (you or another) received genuine gratitude. Recall these stories 1-3 times per week and share them with others if the spirit moves you.
Once that story is embedded in your memory, you will receive the benefits without having to recall it in great detail.
Tip #4: Know Thyself – Introverts vs. Extroverts
Studies suggest that both introverts and extroverts enjoy social interaction but with one key difference:
Introverts get their fill of social interaction faster than extroverts.
An extrovert may need four hours at the holiday office party to fulfill their “social hunger” whereas an introvert may only need one.
This can be explained by variances in the amount of dopamine release different people experience. Introverts experience more dopamine release from less social interaction and are thus satisfied with less social time.
If you’re an introvert, don’t feel guilty for leaving the party “early.” Use your biology as a reason to step away. You have the full support of Stanford neuroscientist Dr. Andrew Huberman…
“If anyone gets offended when you say, “all full… I’m ready to go”, feel free to cite me.”
If you’re an extrovert, don’t make assumptions about or judge introverts for “leaving early” or being quiet after a few hours of social interaction. Odds are their social barometer maxed out a few hours ago and they just need time alone to recharge.
Tip #5: Listen, Watch, and Share Stories
When people hear a story, their hearts start to beat in a similar way.
This phenomenon occurs even if they are not in the same room. And when people share similar physiological experiences, they forever feel closer.
This is familiar to many of us already.
We bond with our close university friends by undergoing the same stressful deadlines and difficult assignments together. We bond with our teammates or gym partners by experiencing the same physical strain and mental challenge.
Since listening to the same stories will drive common physiological responses between us and others, we can intentionally strengthen our relationships and build social bonds by hearing, watching, or sharing stories.
So at your next family gathering, make everyone stack their phone in a pile and spend time watching movies, telling each other stories from the year past, playing or listening to music, or anything else that involves and engages everyone.
That’s all folks.
Modern technology, despite its many benefits, has driven us further away from those we’re with than ever before. Whatever your creed, religion, or race, I hope you use this December to carve out more memorable and joyful time with those you love.
Here’s to finishing 2022 strong.