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Workplace: Choose joy: Celebrate the holiday season at work

It is fun to bring holiday cheer and be merry and festive at work, but we need to be sensitive to everyone around us. Not everyone gets into the holiday spirit. 

It’s December! What happened to 2018? It is almost over! Christmas is only a few weeks away and I can already feel the tension and stress that most of us face when surviving this holiday season. As I sit here and ponder the season, I think instead of stressing about gifts, food and all of the hustle and bustle that comes with the season, I am going to choose joy.

What is joy? According to the dictionary, joy is the feeling of great pleasure and happiness. So why do we encounter so much bitterness and ungratefulness during the holidays? We are supposed to enjoy the season, the food, the fellowship and most importantly, our families. However, let’s be realistic. We must be mindful of others and respect their personal feelings around the holidays too. Some people celebrate at this time of year and some people don’t. Everyone has their own feelings and expectations and while some are excited and find joy around the holidays, others are not excited. At work, this can often be uncomfortable and awkward when it comes to socializing and gift-giving. Here are a few holiday “rules” to keep in mind to help you choose joy during the holiday season at work:

Keep gift giving to a minimum. Most people would rather not exchange gifts with co-workers, so why not donate money to a local charity or participate in a “giving tree” event. However, if you decide to purchase gifts for your department, keep it simple and low cost. When you purchase extravagant gifts for others, they may feel obligated to return the favor, so keep it simple. Remember, it’s the thought that counts and others are often grateful just for the simple fact that you thought of them.

Express gratitude. Be grateful and find the joy of the holiday season. This has been known to increase employee engagement and motivation. Remember to thank your co-workers, vendors and customers for their support over the past year. The best gift you can give anyone is gratitude. Send them a personal card, but make it includes a personal note of gratitude.

Experience presence. As you do your holiday shopping, take time to notice those who are donating their time ringing the bell for the Salvation Army. I know I have been guilty of just ignoring the volunteer and walking straight past them. Give your extra change and pay attention. Often a kind word and experience will bring you joy in the present moment.

Give the gift of yourself. Take time to go to lunch with a friend or find an hour or two and give them your time. When you give yourself to others, you send a message of importance and often your time is really all they need. Instead of texting an old friend, pick up the phone and call them so you can hear their voice. Technology has largely replaced human connection. People need to communicate with others and even a simple conversation shows a gift of friendship.

Be respectful. It is fun to bring holiday cheer and be merry and festive at work, but we need to be sensitive to everyone around us. Not everyone gets into the holiday spirit. Don’t make employees participate in the “Secret Santa” activities. Nobody should be forced to play or participate in activities they are not comfortable with. We all know that these activities create a lot of camaraderie at work, but for those who are not as social and involved in work activities, this may create more awkwardness.

Choose joy. In everything you do, remember to find the “joy” in what you are doing. I promise if you remind yourself of this, expressing gratitude and experiencing presence with others will just come naturally. I believe Maya Angelou said it well, “At the end of the day people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.”

May we all choose joy during this holiday season at work, at home and in our communities. If we choose joy, we will find joy in any situation or circumstance. I challenge you all to choose joy; I promise it is better than the alternative. I wish you all joy and happiness during this holiday season.

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Dena Kirk is the Administrative Director for WORKcare.ready.well. If you would like more information, please contact Dena Kirk at 618-993-3817 or email Dena at


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