From the Publisher - November 2015
“I did it my way.”
Every year as the holidays approach, my heart longs for meaning, connection and peace. For me, the holidays are usually a series of chores, hurriedly getting done in between deadlines and commitments. With my task driven head overruling my longing for joy heart, the holidays, quite frankly, never live up to the expectation of “it’s a wonderful life.”
Fortunately, each year brings another chance to mold the holidays into your heart’s longings. But let’s be realistic. The chores aren’t going away, neither are the expectations, decorations, early deadlines or family power struggles. In fact, the periphery of it all is set to the American standard that is difficult to change when it’s been the same forever.
However, it’s never to late to become what you might have been and this is true for the holidays, as well. It can’t all change, and I’m not sure that I would want it to. But, the thing that can change is you, and nine times out of ten, when you change, so does your entire experience.
In putting thought into what has soured past holidays and what my heart truly desires during the holidays, I have come up with a formula for success. I will call it Operation Happy Holidays—a plan I will implement, and at the very least, it will have to invoke some inner joy. Here’s my list. Feel free to borrow it!
1) Tell someone you’re sorry. I’ve found that those who have to be right all the time are very lonely, bitter people. There is no glory in being right and admitting you’re wrong doesn’t lessen the person you are; it actually makes you more human, more approachable and more loveable. The need for having to be right has killed many relationships. Saying sorry is the only spark to ignite revival.
2) Forgive. I learned a long time ago that forgiving provides you way more inner peace and comfort than the wrongdoer. It doesn’t mean you think what the person did is OK. It means what they did no longer has the power to control or affect you. It means you are bigger than the wrongdoing and strong enough to put it behind you. Let bygones be bygones.
3) Tell someone you love them. If you’re not a big fan of saying the words I love you, do it anyway. People need to know they are loved. It took my father 40-something years to tell me he loved me and he died soon after. What that left me with was doubt. Loving someone can be scary business, but if you love based only on your heart and not on expectations of reciprocity, it takes all the scariness away. Love like everyone is watching! The Bible confirms, “Faith, hope and love, but the greatest of these is love. You have a heart…now put it to work. It loves overtime!
4) Hug. Go hug someone. Right now. I’ll wait… It is said we need at least eight hugs a day. (I think your dog counts!) Research shows that hugging (and laughing) is extremely effective at healing sickness, loneliness, depression, anxiety and stress. AND, holding a hug for an extended time lifts one’s serotonin levels—just like Prozac— elevating your mood and creating happiness. Need I say more?
5) Laugh. See above! Laughter is THE greatest gift to humans. It is my absolute favorite thing. Do yourself a favor, find someone who makes you laugh and make them an important part of your life. You’ll be glad you did! So will they. People who are funny need people to laugh at their humor. It’s as much fun for them as it is for you! Just in case, here’s a joke from Jay Leno: The Supreme Court has ruled that they cannot have a nativity scene in Washington, D.C. This wasn’t for any religious reasons. They couldn’t find three wise men and a virgin.
6) Don’t sweat the small stuff. Whatever you do don’t get caught up in the trivial. Try to stay big picture focused. If the turkey is still frozen after sitting in the oven for eight hours because you forgot to turn it on, just laugh. The small stuff doesn’t make an event. It’s the people, the laughter, and the love that makes an event.
7) If you are going to do, enjoy it. I absolutely hate it when people take over everything and then complain about it. I know someone who wants to do it all—all the cooking, decorating, planning herself—and then becomes a martyr because she had to do it all. (I am rolling my eyes here) If you’re going to offer to do something, do it with love and joy. If you’re going to complain, then don’t do it at all. Nobody wants to eat a cake that was a burden for you to make. Quite frankly, it’s just too hard to stomach.
8) Give thanks. It has been said that if the only prayer you ever said was thank you, that would be enough. Being grateful is powerful. (Read the article about gratefulness on page 25) There is always something to be grateful for. If you think: I have to buy all these gifts, be thankful you have the means to do so. If you think: I have to have all these people over, remember you are blessed to not be lonely. Say thank you. Be thankful—truly feel it in your heart.
Well, that is my plan for conscious holidaying and I’m sticking to it. It’s solid and worth a try. I have never gone into the holidays with purpose beyond getting it all done, but this year I want to make it extra special because my youngest leaves for college next fall. I want it to be something we will remember—and laugh about— forever. Happy holidays from my heart to yours!