It’s hard not to notice that a little bit of Christmas spirit has been sprinkled throughout the news for the last few weeks. “22-months of drought not drying out Christmas spirit.” “ASX responds to the Christmas spirit on short day of trades”. “Melbourne charities, cafes, churches capture Christmas spirit.” Wouldn’t it be great if the merriness lasted all year round? Here are a few aspects of the Christmas spirit that I’m going to try and maintain throughout the year:

Optimism and hope

As seen in the first article about drought, people seem to let their worries go and focus on the positives during the festive season. If only we could keep that sentiment all year round! Sure, we can’t pretend that problems don’t exist, but we can have a bit more faith that things are going to be okay.

Generosity and remembering how good it feels to give

Giving can be tough, and yet at Christmas it seems simpler. It becomes more front-of-mind to start thinking about how we can make others happy, instead of keeping the focus on ourselves. This year, I was really touched by how the gifts I received were so thoughtful – friends and family had really taken time to consider what I needed or liked. It inspired me to be more aware of others’ needs this year, and putting the same thought into buying gifts rather than having a “let’s get this over and done with” mentality.

Coming together – spending time with loved ones

Over Christmas, seeing family and friends is much more relaxed than the rest of the year. Yes, there is more socialising to do, but I feel like I had more time and didn’t always have to rush off to my next appointment. I’d like to spend time better with my loved ones during the year too. How to practically achieve that is the hard bit – maybe it means spreading out my catch-ups, being a bit flexible with my time, and stopping to have a chat with the family when I get home instead of feeling the need to always be busy.

Being grateful for what we have

Did you ever notice that people seem to complain less around Christmas? We’re more aware of what we’re lucky to have – family, friends, the highlights of the year gone past – and we want to give back in the form of volunteering, donating to charity, or sending gifts to the less fortunate. Studies have shown that your level of happiness correlates to how thankful you are: wouldn’t it be great to be this appreciative, and therefore happier, for more than a few weeks a year?

Simple pleasures

This might just be me, but I get a lot of joy from the little things at Christmastime: upbeat carols playing at the shops and on the radio, lights twinkling on front porches, glimpses of decorated trees through house windows, well-wrapped gifts, beautiful nativity scenes, lots of sweet treats. Call me corny, but I’m sure I can find these little pops of joy in everyday life too. Stop and smell the roses? Yes, please.

Tamara El-Rahi is an associate editor of MercatorNet. A Journalism graduate from the University of Technology Sydney, she lives in Australia with her husband and two daughters.