There is a great mystery about the deeper meaning of the well-known Christmas carol, "The 12 Days of Christmas."

Many believe the 12 Gifts described in the song (i.e., a partridge in a pear tree) are just nonsensical lyrics made up for children.

Others believe these Gifts contain hidden meaning about the essence of faith.

No one but the long-ago deceased writer of the song will ever know.

My personal belief is that everything in the universe has layers of hidden meaning, whether we intend it as such or not.

And when we can begin to harvest that secret significance, whether it is the same for two different people or not, life becomes infinitely richer.

The following are descriptions of a new set of "12 Gifts of Christmas" – something I also call "The 12 Gifts of Life".

Whatever you choose to call them, their significance lies in how they can empower you to discover ever more joy and abundance, and to overcome your greatest challenges.

Here is a summary of these 12 beautiful Gifts:

Gift 1 – Insight

Rather than constantly looking for happiness "outside" yourself from others and from material things, life and your challenges compel you to look "inward". Both strength and joy are found when you develop this "Insight" to see beyond the surface of things. And thrillingly, you find answers to questions that have up to now perplexed you, whether you are looking for ways to mend a relationship, overcome failure, or achieve financial freedom.

Gift 2 – Proportion

The bigger your challenges, the greater you receive this Gift. The Gift of Proportion allows you to weigh all of your future ups and downs against the scales of what you already have faced. As such, life becomes much "easier". Everyday obstacles become not nearly so daunting. Spiritual peace and financial wealth are two results from this beautiful Gift. After all, the richest of us are those who prove hardiest in triumphing over our greatest challenges.

Gift 3 – Dignity

We often spend so much time in fear of what other people think. Gift 3 of Dignity allows you to use your challenges to keep your head raised with the knowingness of your own integrity; to keep walking forward to become a model of grace under pressure; and to keep on walking, one step at a time, out of the depths of surviving to the heights of joy-filled thriving.

Gift 4 – Forgiveness

Inability to forgive yourself makes you a prisoner of your own life. As humans, we are far from perfect. Our mission is to move forward based on the lessons we learn from our big and small mistakes. When you can't forgive yourself, you find it easy to not forgive others as well. You subconsciously make those you can't forgive your fellow inmates, and your self-created isolating iron bars close in ever tighter around you. Yet, with the simple sometimes unspoken words to yourself or to another, "I forgive you," a doorway is opened that avails a grace that lightens your days and illuminates your path.

Gift 5 – Faith

Wise men say there are only two emotions in the universe – love and fear. All other emotions are birthed from one of these two. So why is Faith so important and powerful for you and me? Faith is the “bridge” between your greatest fears and your highest love. Faith is the path you choose to transform tragedy into triumph, grief into grace and mistakes into stepping stones to the highest wealth. Faith in a better tomorrow is the spark that ignites you to keep taking your next step to that distant light. And, finally, Faith is the key that opens your own heart to let the grace of God shine through your eyes.

Gift 6 – Humor

A wise friend once told me, "Humor is a form of religion." As shocking as this statement was at first, when I looked deeper, I realized he was right. Humor when appropriately used, can be the greatest of all Gifts. Like Gift 5 of Faith, it can be used to lift us up from our fears. Like Gift 4 of Forgiveness, it can provide the shift we need to free ourselves from our egos and our need to be right. And similar to Gift 3 of Dignity, it can raise us up from our greatest falls to laugh at ourselves and with others so we can continue on taking our next steps to a brighter tomorrow.


Gift 7 of Acceptance

We, as human beings, are powerful beyond our imaginations to shape our world and mold our destinies. Yet, the challenge is always recognizing what we can and can't change. Gift 7 of Acceptance allows us to know when we need to go around an obstacle instead of through it. Its whispers provide us peace by letting us know that which is best left for another day. And its light keeps us from the shadows, illuminating the path where our Highest Power deems we will best serve and be served.

Gift 8 of Discomfort

This is the strangest of all the Gifts. And yet, it is in a certain way the most beautiful one. The Gift of Discomfort shows how the universe can be a paradox – how that which we seek to avoid – discomfort – is in truth that which guides us. It shows us when we are moving away from where we should be, whether that means with another person, in another conversation or on another path. Ignore this Gift's signals, and see how quickly larger signals appear in the form of conflict and adversity. Begin heeding all this Gift offers, and witness how your life slowly begins to be filled with ever greater peace and wealth.

Gift 9 of Silence

Our days are filled with so much activity and noise it often drowns out our deepest nature. That nature, found in our silences, replenishes us and returns us back to a comfort in our own skins and a oneness with the rest of the world. And yet, why is it we are so drawn to the attractions of the latest toy … the noise of the loudest hawker … the charms of the most alluring seduction? Can it not be that an occasional closing of our eyes and quieting of our minds can attune us to a richness around us and a love inside of us that money can never buy? And if so, why should we ignore for even one day longer that which costs not a cent, and yet delivers the greatest of all riches?

Gift 10 of Presence

The sister of Gift 9 of Silence is Gift 10 of Presence. When we have silence inside, we become Present to all that is available outside. This means being present to opportunities we otherwise may miss from being too preoccupied. This includes the momentary window a chance phrase gives us to reconnect with someone with whom we may be at odds. Likewise, it means enjoying something as simple as the daily setting sun – so easy to ignore yet so nourishing to our souls.

The Gifts of Life are all around us. It is our Gift of Presence that allows us to receive them.

Gift 11 of Giving

The Gift of Giving affirms our oneness with the universe; how we are part of a greater cycle where we receive in ever greater abundance along the continuum of our Giving. This Giving does not mean only of our possessions. It includes the free sharing of our smiles, our laughter, our words of comfort and our gestures of kindness. Rather than seeking to hold and contain, The Gift of Giving asks you to be a vessel where love, music and money continually flows to you as it flows through you.

Gift 12 of Grace

The sum total of being open to all the Gifts of Life results in living a life of Grace. This Gift manifests with the simple joy and abundance never farther away than the celebration of the person in front of you, the enjoyment of the silence inside you, and the excitement from the horizon always within your sight. It doesn't take much, but it does take vigilance. Open your eyes and allow The 12 Gifts of Life and of Christmas to cut through the shifting shadows of all which may distract you. Therein you'll find a life of grace filled with all 12 Gifts and many more.

Dr. Michael Norwood is the bestselling author of The 9 Insights of the Wealthy Soul, a story in which he first revealed "The 12 Gifts of Life." The book has been featured in the Wall Street Journal and has been hailed by the producer from "Touched by an Angel" and 3 NY Times bestselling authors. You can read his book and receive his "12 Gifts of Life" movies for free