Alternate Christmas wish list

Have you heard what the hottest Christmas gift is this year? A corduroy pillow. It’s been making headlines.

I read this joke while scrolling through Facebook one morning and have been retelling it ever since, laughing every time. It’s a fitting way to start this column.

This time of year, I am, and I’m sure you are, often asked for ideas for Christmas gifts. There are a few items on my list. None of them happen to be a corduroy pillow and none of them are on the many “top gift” lists floating around various websites. Sometimes, though, I wish that I could be gifted things that aren’t items at all. I suspect many of you would replace items on your list with wishes like the following: That all children and pets had forever homes full of love, and without abuse or neglect. That no one, children or adults, would have to experience bullying. That no one would ever go without a home or a meal. That cancer and so many other diseases didn’t exist. The list goes on.

Those wishes, although important things to fight toward and invest in, will take time to achieve. Little successes are realized step by step. However, there are two things I want to put on my list that are much easier to achieve because they are things we can individually choose to do and make a big difference in a short amount of time. If more of us chose to do these things, we would find ourselves in a much different world. If I could trade in my personal gift wish list for success in the following wishes, I would do it in a heartbeat.

I wish more people would take responsibility for their lives, their success, and their happiness. I had someone ask me the other day if I would start a book club with her. But not a book club that reads non-fiction books. Instead, she wanted to start a book club that reads leadership, personal motivation, and inspirational books. I wish there were more people who wanted to improve their own lives and situations and who were willing to do the work it takes. Whether the work is reading more, self-observation and reflection, making incremental changes, seeking professional help, getting the next step up in education, or one of many other options, I wish more people would make things happen for them instead of reacting as things happen to them.

My list would also include a wish that more people would invest in their own level of emotional intelligence. I was at a pizza restaurant the other day waiting for an order I had placed online for pickup. While I was waiting, a woman came in with a pizza box. She slammed it on the counter and told them she had ordered that pizza for delivery but that it was all wrong. There was too much salt, and the toppings weren’t perfectly and evenly spread across the pieces like they were supposed to be. She clearly had a low level of emotional intelligence. I wish more people would invest in their emotional intelligence and understand how their actions, words, tone, and reactions impact situations. Here’s the thing, emotional intelligence can be increased through practice. I wish more people would choose that for themselves.

If these two seemingly simple wishes were granted, I think we would see a difference in our ability to solve some of the bigger problems of society. We would work together better, have more trust in one another, be less territorial, and would experience a more positive environment in which to exist.

After Christmas is over, if there are items on my list that I wasn’t gifted, I sometimes see if I can purchase the items at a discount for myself. I suppose it is the same with these other wishes. I can gift them to myself by engaging in the behavior I wish to see more of in the world.

Anyone can gift any of these to themselves in that way. It doesn’t cost a thing. Putting them on my list won’t make them a reality for everyone. But I can gift them to myself knowing my life will be happier, and hope that, along the way, I inspire others to choose to do the same.

Jackie Krawczak is president/CEO of the Alpena Area Chamber of Commerce. Her column runs bi-weekly on Thursdays. Follow Jackie on Twitter @jkrawczak.