How the Holidays Spark Empathy

DIY for Adults!

At WINGS we teach our kids the critical skill of empathy: the capacity to recognize feelings that are being experienced by another person or living being. Our kids recite the WINGS Creed every day which includes a line that focuses on empathy: "I want to learn more about everyone I meet. I want to step into their shoes to see what they are going through." Kids are quick learners; adults sometimes need refreshers and reminders. As the holidays approach, it's time to let your empathy shine!

Here are 3 helpful tips:

Gift giving:
As this article in the Wall Street Journal notes, "Some gift givers spend time and energy trying to find just the right gift. But thoughtful gifts don't necessarily lead to greater appreciation, according to a study published in November in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General. The benefit of a thoughtful gift actually accrues mainly to the giver, who derives a feeling of closeness to the other person, the study found. People are more appreciative when they receive a gift they have explicitly requested."

Keep this in mind while you are shopping. Although you may feel really great about a cool, "personal" gift idea for someone, stop and think. Step into their shoes. What do they really want? Have they specifically asked for something? Are you buying them something different just so you can feel good?

If you go through these steps, you'll probably give a gift the person appreciates more and in turn they will show you more gratitude, making both of you happy.

Holiday gatherings:
Organizing a holiday gathering can be very stressful. Often times the organizer has spent countless hours and energy preparing only to feel bad about how things unfolded if it isn’t perfect. As you attend holiday gatherings, step into the shoes of the organizer and think about how much effort has gone into all aspects of the event.

  • Say thanks. It goes along way.
  • Look for things you know took a long time to prepare and give a compliment. Example: "Wow those handmade ornaments on your tree look wonderful."
  • Ask what you can do to help. Example: "You need to have some fun too! Can I serve dessert?"
  • Finally, don’t judge the effort. People approach holiday gatherings in different ways. Judging others only takes away from the enjoyment you can receive from the event.

Thinking about individuals in need:
You hear this very often but it never hurts to be reminded. For a lot of people, the holiday season is the most cheerful of them all. However, there are several individuals who suffer through the holiday season without family, friends, food or even shelter. Depressed people can become even more depressed when they recognize how happy they are "supposed" to be during this joyous season. So, as you scamper around for gifts, get the house perfectly decorated and buy plenty of holiday food, take time to think of people who are not as fortunate and think about how you can help.

At WINGS, we celebrate the holidays by continuing to help our kids from low-income schools. They are fortunate enough to receive 500 hours of WINGS programming each year and during the holiday season, we go out of our way to ensure they experience joyful holiday moments. Click here to see some soaring at the Charleston Reindeer Run.

Shine bright this holiday season!




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