My wise Mom often reminds me that “for a lot of people, the holidays aren’t a time of joy. For many, the holidays are a really tough time”.
The holidays are a time full of expectations. There’s an expectation to be happy, to be surrounded by loved ones, and to be full of joy (just to name a few).
What doesn’t get talked about as much are the challenges that come along with the holidays.
Oftentimes these challenges sneak up on me. A couple things that often happen are stress around travel, stress around family disagreements, and stress from thinking about the past year and year ahead.
Sometimes, these stressful situations can put a stain on the holidays. When your expectations are let down, that disappointment can keep you from finding joy in the little moments.
And to me, that’s what the holidays are all about. Joy in the little moments.
The holidays aren’t meant to be a time of continual joy and bliss. That’s just an expectation that goes along with them.
The holidays aren’t meant to be 100% bliss because life isn’t 100% bliss. The holidays are just like any other day, so the approach to having a joyful holiday season is the same approach I’ll suggest for having a joyful life.
Joy is an emotion that arises spontaneously when you’re living in the moment.
Joy is the look on a child’s face when they see something that makes them laugh.
The reason children is so joyful is because children are so present.
It’s no surprise that children cry all the time. They’re just expressing their emotions as they come up. They wear their emotions on their sleeves. As we grow, we learn not to do this.
And it’s a good thing we can control our emotions as adults. It helps society operate in a predictable way. The unfortunate thing is that as a side result, we also suppress the fun emotions like joy.
So the trick to coming back to joy during the holiday season is to come back to where things started: being present in the moment.
If you are able to be present in the moment during the holidays, joy will arise for you (provided you’re not dealing with abnormal circumstances).
So how do you be in the moment?
You have to pay attention! You have to be focused on what’s in front of your eyes. That brain of yours is calling for your attention 24/7, and being present means not being caught up in your head.
Fortunately for you, the holidays are actually a great time to pay attention. There is an abundance of new sights, sounds, smells and tastes.
The challenge for you then, is to notice all these sensations that are unique to the Holiday season.
Instead of mindlessly walking past the Christmas lights, being present would mean really looking at the lights and noticing the way they sparkle.
Instead of mindlessly walking past store fronts, being present would mean noticing all the intricacies of the Christmas themed store fronts.
Instead of just hanging out in your living room on your phone, being present would mean taking a minute to really smell the Christmas tree.
There are unlimited ways you can be present during the holiday season. The key, again, is to pay attention.
Today and throughout the holidays, I invite you to try out this whole paying attention thing. Pay attention to as much as you can.
This time of year only happens once a year, so regardless of how enjoyable it feels, I encourage you to really pay attention.
You might just find that by paying attention, things become more enjoyable.
If you’re interested to learn more about how to be present during the holidays, feel free to check out the coaching section on my website and set up your free consultion.
It would be my greatest joy to talk with you and come up with a plan for how you can mindfully navigate the holidays.
Happy Holidays my friend.