Focus on a Happy Holiday


Does it feel like the Grinch stole your holiday spirit? For many, the holidays are anything but happy, with the stress of spending too much and dealing with family dysfunction. All of these can wreck the holiday season.

When we focus on the past, the problems and the feelings of frustration it produces take away all our self-confidence. When we put our energy into negative thinking or those on the naughty list, our self-esteem plummets. Instead, focusing on feeling happier will make this a happier holiday for everyone we love.

6 Ways to Have A Happier Holiday and Stay Sane

  1. Give to others. Whether it’s some change in our pocket or time spent volunteering at a shelter, giving back feels good. Many theories of psychology place emphasis on contributing to others in order to get clarity and gain control of negative feelings.
  2. Avoid comparisons. The more we compare ourselves to others, the more we need to prepare for increased feelings of inadequacy. That friend that got a gift we wanted or who was able to spend thousands on gifts this year, puts us in a place of “lacking and loathing” and creates bad energy. Instead, we can choose to focus on what we already have and the people around us who are positive. We can help our children learn how to do this, too, by concentrating on giving our children the gift of self-confidence instead of giving them the latest toy.
  3. Expect the expected. If we go home for the holidays or have family over, we do well to not expect magic or dramatic changes in their character. Instead we can set our expectations to be more realistic by accepting that people are the way they are and we can’t change them. We can change our response and their effects on us, by learning how to cope ahead with situations that previously have caused us stress. If mom complains every year about our gift-giving skills, accept she will probably do the same again and plan accordingly. We can remind ourselves that we tried our best and it’s her issue if she can’t be compassionate and grateful. Accept it and move on.
  4. Be smart about spending. Sometimes it is difficult to say no or stick to a budget. Instead of feeling stressed after the holiday season with credit card debt and too much spending, we can focus on being careful with our cash flow by creating a realistic budget and sticking to it.
  5. Practice mindfulness. Just taking a few breaths and recognizing our frame of mind can bring us back to reality. Before heading into a hectic holiday zone, mindfulness can help us become calm and centered. Identifying our intention for being where we are, in the moment, is important. Thinking to ourselves, “I am at the mall to get gifts for my family that I hope will bring them joy” puts us in a better frame of mind than thinking “This place is a zoo. I am such an idiot for coming after work.”
  6. Give ourselves a gift. Put some time and energy into ourselves. Rather than blowing the budget on an expensive present, we may spend a night in to enjoy our favorite holiday movies, enjoy a quiet lunch with friends or indulge in a nap or massage. The better we treat ourselves, the more pleasant we will be to others.

Happy holidays, everyone. I am grateful for each of you and hope this holiday brings you joy and happiness.

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