This Christmas I made a vlog
A simple montage of time with family: the gifts we gave, the food we ate, and an amorous encounter with an outsized American Akita (!) What struck me most about filming Christmas was how much more appreciative it made me of the little things. When you’re searching for things to film, you find heart-warming moments in spades:
- Like the excitable wave from the window as you pull up in the car.
- The funny way the cats observe you from on high, from their throne at the top of the stairs.
- The colours and textures of a table full of home-cooked Indian dishes.
- Expansive views over the countryside and down to the sea.
- And my favourite…the childlike shriek from my fella’s sister as she smashed us all at Articulate.
I‘ve always liked Christmas, but with camera in hand I felt even more grateful for the people and festivities around me.
I’ve stumbled upon a new gratitude practice
For years I’ve been cultivating a more thankful mindset. I’m a member of an Attitude Of Gratitude WhatsApp group set up by a fellow breathworker just before the pandemic - perfect timing. Every day we message three things we’re grateful for, everything from a warm, centrally heated house to a bloody good nap. We also show gratitude for the things we’re not so enamoured with in our life: like weird ailments, appliances that go kaput, and baristas that throw up in your flat white (true story). Set backs have value too, they teach us important life lessons: like patience, tolerance, and always ask for a lid.
Anyway, now I have a new way to exercise my gratitude. Filming. And what I love about this one is it gives you a little lift in real time. I’d previously thought that filming might take you away from the present moment. Turns out the opposite is true. Obviously you have to pick your moments. Don’t stick the camera in someone’s face before you’ve said hello, or hugged them for the first time. But once you’ve made that genuine connection, occasionally stepping behind the lens can actually enhance your experience of the day. Activate your ‘inner film director’ and the world appears in technicolour. You become highly-attuned to the beauty all around you. It’s a great antidote to social anxiety too, which I sometimes get a touch of. Before you get too ‘in your head’ you give yourself a moment to simply observe, to place your attention on the sights and sounds that please you, to turn a wobble into a mini-meditation — maybe even a precious memory.
There are other benefits too. Bored of playing Super Mario? Pass the controller and film the epic final battle instead. Finished your G&T? Meticulously set up a close-up of the slowly melting ice. ‘Wouldn’t that look better with a nice full glass Hayley?’ Yes, it most certainly would.
So, without further ado…
…here it is, my Christmas vlog. I had no idea how much I was going to love making it, and it’s given my family pleasure too. I hope you also had a wonderful holiday season, whether you were celebrating Christmas like me, Hanukkah, Diwali, or that other religious festival — time off work. If however this vlog happens to have caught you at a bit of a ‘down’ moment, my invitation to you is this. Pick up your phone, open the camera, and find something in your immediate environment that makes you smile. Chances are you won’t even have to leave your sofa to find something that captures your imagination. It might be birds in the garden, light and shadows dancing on the wall, steam rising from your tea.
It’s so easy to get into the habit of only noticing what irritates and upsets us, in fact we’re wired that way, constantly looking out for ‘threats’. My hope for you this year is that you can break this joy-sapping habit. Practicing gratitude is a lot like going to the gym, you have to push through the resistance not to bother going, and keep it up to feel the benefits. Before you know it though you’ll feel different. You’ll be different. Get ready to fall in love with your life again, exactly as it already is.