“If you wait until you can do everything for everybody, instead of something for somebody, you’ll end up not doing nothing for nobody.”  — Malcom Bane

Even for me, a seasoned Life Coach with many tools at my fingertips to help me maintain a positive mindset and optimistic expectation for the BEST outcomes, 2017 has been one helluva challenging year.

I honestly cannot remember one single year of my 64 so far that has been packed with such a steady stream of dispiriting calamities – devastating natural disasters like fires, floods and hurricanes; man-made tragedies like the Las Vegas shooting massacre of innocents; terrorism and wars around the globe; and a dysfunctional government in Washington filled with politicians who seem far more focused on enriching themselves and getting good press than on actually helping the people who elected them.

As I was pondering what a crazy and depressing year it’s been, my subconscious mind suddenly began running through the lyrics to the catchy little song called “We Need a Little Christmas” by Shane Harper. In case you don’t remember it, here are a few of the verses:

“Haul out the holly;

Put up the tree before my spirit falls again.

Fill up the stocking,

I may be rushing things but deck the halls again now.

 For we need a little Christmas

Right this very minute,

Candles by the window,

Carols at the spinet.

Yes, we need a little Christmas

Right this very minute….


For I’ve grown a little leaner,

Grown a little colder,

Grown a little sadder,

Grown a little older,

And I need a little angel

Sitting on my shoulder,

Need a little Christmas now.”

 I am usually the first to complain that store displays, commercials and non-stop Christmas songs blaring from the radio start before Halloween nowadays.  But this year, I am looking forward to a little Christmas atmosphere just as soon as we can get it…Not the commercial “buy everything you can get your hands on” kind of atmosphere — But the REAL “Spirit of the Holidays” (which include Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa — every tradition that is celebrated around the end of each year).

That Spirit reflects our BEST human impulses — Gratitude, Giving, Caring and Sharing.  It’s the one season when we all seem willing to set aside our many differences and come together. We are ready to take a breath and just be kinder and more loving toward our fellow human beings. And I say that we are ready for a little of that Christmas Spirit right about NOW!

So I am going to start the ball rolling early this year!  For the past several years, this blog has had a holiday tradition called the “Pay-It-Forward Challenge” that invites YOU to participate.  I love hearing about the many creative ways my readers find to help someone else, show them that they matter to you, or simply brighten their day and put a smile on their face.

I got the idea for the Pay It Forward Challenge when I was at Starbucks during Thanksgiving week a couple of years ago. A stranger ahead of me paid $5.00 toward my purchase, which turned my frazzled, grumpy day around and put a smile on my face that never went away through the rest of the year.  That simple generous kindness inspired me to buy a bunch of $5.00 gift cards and begin giving them out every few days to the baristas at the register to bestow on random people in the line behind me.

I can’t wait to repeat that joyful practice again from this month through the end of the year!  I trust that each of those surprised strangers who receive my gift will also pay it forward to make someone else feel special and cared about. Last year, the baristas told me that there were a number of people doing the same thing, creating a big old warm chain of joy and gratitude, one cup at a time!

You can experience the joy of spreading around some “Holiday Spirit” in your own creative ways.  Your kindness and thoughtfulness doesn’t have to cost anything.  Here are few examples my readers came up with in years past:

  • Let someone who appears to be in a hurry go ahead of you in the checkout line. I promise they will beam at you!
  • Help a harried friend or colleague run an errand, or babysit their kids while they do.
  • Surprise your friends, family and clients with a snail-mailed or emailed Thanksgiving card this year! Few people think to send them, but this gesture says, “I am so grateful for you!” to friends and customers like nothing else can.
  • Use your musical, baking or crafting talents to spread cheer and delight to children, neighbors, elderly folks and the sick.
  • Help an older person or someone who is under the weather put up their holiday decorations or haul home their Christmas tree.
  • Donate some lightly-used warm clothing or blankets to an organization that serves the homeless.
  • Donate food or pet supplies to an organization that helps loving pets that are patiently waiting for their forever homes.
  • Surprise someone with a tin of tea and a plate of homemade holiday treats. Better yet, sit down and listen to them while you enjoy the goodies together.

If you are able, pay your own financial blessings forward by spreading the prosperity around a bit.  Here are just a few ideas:

  • Surprise a friend on a tight budget with a supermarket gift card that will make their Holiday feast much brighter.
  • At the gas station, if you notice someone in an old car with kids in the back, surprise her by paying for a tank of gas.
  • Astonish a homeless person by handing them $5 or $10 instead of spare change.
  • Contribute a little extra to your favorite charity or cause. I like to support local animal rescue organizations that are operating on a shoestring. $25 means far more to them than it does to the big animal welfare organizations, although I try to donate as much as I can to those, too.
  • This year, more than any other in recent memory, we have the opportunity to donate to the Red Cross and other relief organizations that are struggling to fill the needs of millions whose lives have been upended from so many back-to-back natural disasters.

It’s easy to fall into despair and think “What difference can I make in the face of all that seems so wrong and tragic in the world?”  But as this week’s quote reminds us, any little thing we do for someone else to pay forward all the many blessings we have received in our own lives is BIG to that person.  And if each of us makes it our mission to touch just ONE life this way, we can start a tidal way of Gratitude, Kindness and Giving that just might spread “a little Christmas” cheer far beyond the end of the year.

Please email me your own Pay It Forward Challenge story!  I will collect them and share them in a future blog to inspire others to do more of the same.

 If you or your friends would like your own free subscription to receive this blog three Sundays a month, just go to http://www.practicalprosperitycoach.com and click on the Prosperity Tips button at the top.

 *************** Give Yourself the Gift of Dreams Fulfilled! ******************

To schedule a no-obligation, F*R*E*E* HOUR of phone coaching that will help clarify your Big Goals and get you into ACTION to make them a reality, please email me at caroll@practicalprosperitycoach.com.