Build resilience, relieve stress by gifting experience


By Dr. Nancy Gahles, DC, CCH, RSHom(NA), OIM

A major stressor unique to the holiday season is worrying about what gift to get whom. The mad dash for holiday sales begins before Thanksgiving. That means that, before we give thanks for all that we have, we rush out to buy more things, more stuff.

My memory wanders back to the days after Hurricane Sandy.  I remember the streets piled high with stuff from our basements. I remember the Riis Park parking lot filled with stuff we accumulated over the years and stored away. We had not looked at most of the stuff in years.

Granted, basements are a place to store memorabilia where our children can find it, perhaps reuse it, and then repackage for the next generation to do the same.

That is fine. That is experience—seeing, feeling, touching, and remembering moments and activities shared with others are ways to connect with your past. They build resilience for the future.

Memories are a way to consolidate your experience. To draw on those wonderful moments gives us happiness when our spirit flags. Of course, there can be awful moments, though we generally don’t memorialize those in mementoes that we keep and pack away to cherish later.

Experience isn’t for sale. Experience isn’t one-size-fits-all. Experience demands that you carefully, thoughtfully, and with intention create a moment, or moments, that the recipient of your gift will be thrilled with. These gifts will keep on giving because they will be felt in the body, mind, and spirit. Joy resonates with surprise and with the recognition of being thought of kindly and with love. As the Beatles aptly put it into song, “money can’t buy me love.”

A favorite saying of mine is, “where you put your attention or focus is what you consider sacred.” The moment that you put your attention on a person that you give a gift to, perhaps take a moment to reflect. Who is this person? How do they like to be acknowledged? How do they receive? Some people are not good at receiving and may reject gifts, no matter what it is. All people, however, want to feel cherished in some way. An experience that demonstrates how you feel about that person is the appropriate gift. The point of focus on thinking about that is sacred. Here is the glitch—it takes time.

Time is the commodity we all claim that we don’t have enough of. That is the gift—making time for you to consider the other, and for you to give a gift that may require you to spend time in an experience of sharing with the other. That is what I consider sacred.

In my experience as a public speaker, writer, and healer, I have found that people will not necessarily remember what you said, but they will remember how you made them feel. The gift of experience is a feeling gift. It sticks with you. It is bonding, indelible, and it requires you to give of yourself. Like a relationship, you form a basis of intimacy that you honor.

Simple and easy gifts of experience can include:

  • A gift certificate to enjoy a coffee together one morning.
  • A gift certificate to take a yoga class together.
  • A gift certificate to experience peace together at a Mindfulness Meditation Class (shameless plug for mine).
  • A gift certificate to a dining experience at a favorite restaurant.
  • A gift certificate to share a movie together.

These gifts highlight you, the giver, as part of the experience. It is not necessary that you join in. The gift of experience is as effective when you consciously offer something that person would truly enjoy. It may not be to your liking, but it shows your thoughtfulness to that person. In the case where you were off the mark, or the person didn’t want it, at the very least, it will show that you gave the gift thought and kind consideration. You can’t lose.

And so it goes—the wheel of life. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Make someone happy.  That is all that truly matters. And the only storage necessary is in the vast spaciousness of your heart.




Dr. Nancy Gahles is an integrative and holistic doctor in family practice since 1980. She is owner of Health & Harmony Wellness Center and Spirit of Love~The Rockaway Sangha in Belle Harbor, NY. Dr. Gahles specializes in stress and its role in the cause of dis-ease. Her work developing the Triumvirate Technique© is informed by her experience as a chiropractor, a Certified Classical Homeopath, Certified Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) practitioner, Ordained Interfaith Minister and self-proclaimed Happiness Doctor. Dr. Gahles is a patient advocate and a political activist serving on the Board of Directors of the Integrative Health Policy Consortium (IHPC). She is President Emerita of the National Center for Homeopathy and serves on the Advisory Council of Homeopaths Without Borders and the Integrative Health Symposium.

She is a published author of The Power of $elfCare: A Common Sense Guide to YOUR Wellness Solution  and TEDxTalk  and ebook: Health Investment Portfolios . Dr. Gahles is a member of the Association of Healthcare Journalists and Ethical Journalism.