Stop me if you've heard this . . .
A suicidal man named George Pratt stands on the edge of a bridge on Christmas Eve. Before he can jump, a little old man approaches him and strikes up a conversation.
George confesses to the man that he wishes he had never been born. The little man grants George's wish, and upon returning to his town, George finds that no one recognizes him.
After several encounters with the local townsfolk, George realizes the value of his life and to throw it all away would be a waste.
In 1943, Philip Van Doren Stern penned the holiday short-story The Greatest Gift that went on to become the Christmas classic It's A Wonderful Life.
The book and the movie remind us that there is wisdom in reflecting on the important things in life, including the gift of life itself.
So as you take some time off this week and the year winds down, pick one day to do the following:
(1) Take 10 seconds and state three things you are grateful for out loud.
(2) Take a 5 minute walk.
(3) Write down a positive experience from the day before.
(4) Take 90 seconds to be quiet--with no cell phone!-- to meditate or pray.
(5) Perform a random act of kindness.
According to Harvard research Shawn Achor, doing these 5 things dramatically enhances our happiness and appreciation of life. A summary of his findings can be found here. His hilarious TED talk on the same material can be seen here.
If you are a leader, I know that your time is limited, thus very valuable to you.
Why not incorporate these 5 actions into your daily routine as you gear up for 2020? Achor contends that consistently performing these 5 practices not only improves happiness, it also positively shapes a leader's frame of mind.
Employees want to work for leaders with this type of mindset. In fact, they will work harder for bosses that keep positive to negative comments around a 5:1 ratio. Don't believe me? Read here.
So go ahead, do those five easy things. Be happy. See the value in a life.
Like George Bailey, it will be the greatest gift you can give yourself this Christmas.