‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ (1946) is a traditional Christmas film for many families and may have particular resonance now with a banking crisis, a loss of personal confidence and a questioning of what makes a successful life at the heart of the story. It’s a good time to contemplate the impact we have on others -at home and work- and to consider what we can do this Christmas of low/no bonuses to make people’s lives a little better and a little warmer. 16 Dec Somehow it is allowable to have views seriously skewed towards the negative but unacceptable or dumb to be positive. Try this experiment every day until Christmas. At the end of the day or on your journey home instead of thinking of all the things that didn’t get done or that weren’t so good (The Zeigarnik Effect) ask yourself, ‘What were the best 3 things about today?’ These may be trivial or profound. Then ask, ‘What part did I play in making them happen?’ and ‘How can I do more of that?’ Science predicts a surge of well being when you just take a more balanced view. Let me know about some of the things on your lists. 17Dec While I hope I appreciate anything I am given this year, I have already had the best Christmas present I could wish for. Some years ago my daughters gave me a mug with a heart on it. It was filled with coils of red paper and on every piece they had written a reason they loved me. Some were funny. All were touching. I don’t even need to take them out and read them. Just trailing my fingers through those coils reminds me of my fortune in being loved. People are quite simple. We never tire of love and appreciation . . .or in a work setting call it recognition and appreciation. Few people ever get enough. Embarrass and delight someone this year witha simple but thought through gesture. 18 Dec How often do we worry over the things we can’t control? Worry may feel appropriate, even normal but it’s a bit like going into a bank and saying ‘I don’t have an account here but can I pay you interest in case I ever owe you money?’ Ridiculous and exhausting! Why waste precious energy on things that may never happen? Optimists say, ‘What will it take to succeed in this?’ rather than, ‘Let me think of everything that could go wrong here.’ Let’s start thinking about what will make this a good and merry Christmas for one and all. Then if the tree falls over, the turkey fails to cook or you have to work over Christmas at least you will have the energy to cope with it. 19 Dec In our leadership work, we start by looking for people’s strengths not their weaknesses. We find out what they are like at their very best and then look for new ways of using those strengths to face challenging situations. This Christmas, avoid seeing people’s weaknesses or annoying characteristics. Look for their strengths instead and find ways for them to use them. When people use their strengths, they become fully engaged and their happiness levels go up. Help people to play to their strengths. Don’t force them to play charades when they would rather read a good book. 20 Dec Earlier today, exchanging presents and eating Christmas cupcakes, people started telling special memories of childhood: the special,’made up’ stories Fathers and Uncles told of astonishing intergalactic feats of teddies or robots, the train journeys Grandpa used to create with full sound effects without leaving his armchair, the surprises Mum always used to conjure up. Not one person mentioned a toy. Every memory related to an adult’s gift of time, attention and imagination. Invest in future memories today by creating a little magic for someone. 21 Dec It is always good to invent new rituals. Today a client told me that he had bought flying paper lanterns for New Year’s Eve. Each guest will write on a luggage label one memory or experience of 2009 that they would like to leave behind, attach it to the balloon and watch it drift away. What a great idea for moving on unencumbered. It might be even better to write about your hopes, aims and aspirations for 2010. As your lanterns fly away, have faith in what you will achieve. They don’t call me a positive psychologist for nothing!