Intention. This lays the foundation for a better, brighter Christmas.
It's easy to become overwhelmed with all that there in to do this time of year. it's non-stop rush, rush, rush. The best way to stay centered is to simply sit in quiet and think about how you'd like your holiday season to go. What would make it really great? Then tell yourself, 'I want joy. I want peace. I want grace and love.' And really, aren't those the things ALL of us want for our holiday...whether it's Christmas, Hanukka, or Kwanza (or some or season celebration)?
After setting your intention, Attention energizes it.
Once you made your intention, then you need to focus your attention on it. Insteading of bracing yourself for all the negative thing; credit card bills, endless shopping lines, and hectic pace, try focusing on the gap between those negative things and the things you want. Finding small ways to lessen that seemingly cavernous space will help not only you feel better/happier/cheerier, but it will help all those around you as well. When everybody chills out a little, life becomes easier, better, and smoother.
So, with the groundwork laid, here are some excellent ways to make this season the best it can be.
1. Raise your appreciation quotient. When you interact with someone, don't just blurt out, "Happy Holidays." Instead, say a word of appreciation and give them a genuine smile. Let them truly feel your goodwill.
2. Think less about yourself and more about others. We never grow at our ego level. Once we stop thinking about ourselves and begin to focus on the needs of others, we find more happiness, more joy, and more of the true meaning of Christmas.
3. Practice empathy. Spend time focusing on how others are feeling; extend sympathy where needed. Empathy establishes an emotional bond, helps counter isolation (all too common during the holidays), and the lonliness that many humans (and frogs) feel this time of year. Reach out to those in need. It can be the perfect gift for someone, maybe even a stranger.
4. Be easy on yourself. Easier said than done, I know, but trying to make Christmas perfect is a recipe for failure. When things don't go quite the way you'd planned...or when something unexpected pops up, take a deep breath and tell yourself that it's all OK. Because it is. Christmas is more about finding joy and happiness than it is about perfection. And those Christmas movies? They aren't real. Nobody really lives like that!
5. Keep away from toxicity. When you find yourself in the midst of toxic emotions, don't join in. If it's possible, simply walk away. If that's not possible, remain as calm and upbeat as you can. Your positivity can rub off on to others and actually help to decrease tensions.
6. Gracefully, set limits. None of us are Superman or Wonder Woman. We can't do everything or be all things to everyone. Set boundaries for what you'll do (it's alright to say no now and then...) and what behavior (from others) is acceptable. If they don't respect your boundaries, it's up to you to remind them, politely, that they are making you uncomfortable. If the bad behavior continues, don't waste time telling them again...simply walk away.
7. and 8. Watch out for reactive responses; look for new ways to handle negative situations that arise. These knee-jerk reactions are never good. We tend to repeat old patterns and ways of doing things. They don't work but we keep on doing them anyway The next time you find yourself reacting in that same old negative way. Stop for a moment, and think about other options. There is always more than one solution to the problem. The old way hasn't worked, so perhaps it's time to try something new. A new, or fresh, response to an old problem may be just what is needed. learn to think creatively.
9. Focus on the spiritual. Even for those who are not religious, it's important to turn to the things that uplift you; poetry, good music, reading an inspiration passage. It doesn't really matter what you do, or if you adopt the spiritual beliefs from your reading. What really matters is that you find comfort and peace, joy and grace, gratitude and compassion from it. They are meant to lift us up beyond our everyday ho-hum; allowing us to can see what is possible.
This is the season of joy. It is the season for loving kindness. It's also the season of giving...to others as well as to yourself. This season, give yourself the gift of peace and grace. It's a one-size-fits all present. And, more importantly, it's something that once you own it, you'll never want to return.