8 WAYS YOUR FAMILY CAN SPREAD GOODWILL
“Peace on Earth, goodwill to all” is the epitome of the classic “Christmas spirit” that countless people vow every December to keep throughout the coming year—but few actually do. The goodwill spirit can become an everyday habit, but it takes more practice time than whatever spare moments can be snatched from a few weeks of celebration. If you’d like to cultivate the habit in your family for the long term, here are some ideas to implement.
- Let goodwill begin at home. The habit of forcing yourself to be polite to strangers while feeling free to snarl at life partners and children is widespread—but if ill will reigns behind closed doors, neither you nor anyone else in your household will ever take much real goodwill into the outside world. When you’re feeling stressed or depressed, tell your loved ones and let them comfort you, rather than punishing them because you resent not being allowed to spit at your boss.
- Make a point of always speaking cheerfully and respectfully, whether face-to-face in your home; across the street to your neighbors; over the phone; in a virtual meeting; or even about the driver in the next car. Remember, you’re setting an example for little ears!
- Keep a smile on your face, even when wearing a virus mask or talking on the phone. Even when others can’t literally see you smiling, they’ll sense it—and catch your goodwill—through your voice and gestures.
- Take steps to help everyone start each day in a good mood: the first hour typically determines everyone’s outlook (and how they treat others) for the rest of the day. Get up earlier to minimize rushing; make space for a shared breakfast where you can discuss what everyone is looking forward to; and don’t listen to the news first thing (or during breakfast) unless you want fresh reasons to dread the day before it even starts.
- Every night (over dinner or while tucking the kids into bed), have each member of your family share something they did to help someone else that day, and a way they plan to help others tomorrow. Emphasize, “doing good helps you feel good.”
- Set a goal that “ours is a family with no place for a sense of entitlement.” Nothing is more damaging to goodwill than an attitude of “I matter and you don’t,” and the sooner we all get in the habit of considering everyone’s feelings, the better off the world will be.
- One weekend a month, participate in a service project as a family: assemble school-supplies bags for children at a homeless shelter; deliver meals; search your drawers for extra change you can donate to a worthy cause.
- Make a daily habit of counting your blessings and treating life as something to be celebrated. Once you learn to be happy as a matter of course, goodwill flows naturally!