I recently heard from a friend who is experiencing one of many “firsts” without her mom. She’s rolled into the “First Christmas Without Mom.” People we know, or more so people we don’t know but come into contact with just briefly, may be experiencing the same type of situation. They might be finding it hard to muster up that holiday joy this season in the face of sadness or pain. It’s a good time to pause and ask how do I contribute to Holiday Joy? How do I diminish Holiday Joy? How can I help someone revive their Holiday Joy?
There are three somewhat simple things you can do to help boost holiday joy for you and for the ones you choose to spend your holidays with.
Create Holiday Joy with Patience
Patience doesn’t come easily to most of us, and it’s definitely a skill that requires consistent and intentional practice. Our ability to tolerate waiting, delays, frustration without becoming agitated or upset is tested during this time of year for sure. Effective problem solving and the ability to think clearly goes straight out the window when are in the midst of an impatient spiraling temper tantrum.
I mean, if we’re going, to be honest, that’s often what it is, right? A bit of a tantrum because: my flight has been delayed, (which happens during the holidays because well….snow sleet and rain are real); or the lines are long; or the store is out of the advertised item, or Amazon didn’t deliver my package in time, or the dry cleaner is closed, or the toddler in line is clearly tired and cranky and mom is at her wits end with that wild panicked look in her eye when she realizes she forgot bread and turns to you and says, “Can you hold my spot please?”
On my not so good days, I scrunch up my face in what should be a smile but likely looks more like I’m having a gas pain and I say, “Uh, sure.”
So I’m going to let you in on a secret that I learned, well, I don’t really know when I learned it, but it has saved my mood and reputation on a zillion occasions.
Here it is. Get ready to write this down and commit it to memory:
When something negatively impacts me I say: “Well. That’s inconvenient.” Sometimes the phrase, “That’s fascinating,” is more appropriate. Either works.
That’s it. If there’s no loss of life or imminent harm to anyone involved, it’s just: inconvenient or fascinating.
Think about it. Think about your day yesterday or today. What happened that caused you to want to go OFF. Perhaps an incident that caused you to lose patience. What if you would have said, “That’s inconvenient,” or “That’s fascinating?”
So that’s your opportunity for the day, for the season really! When presented with an opportunity to lose your self all over someone instead, PAUSE. BREATHE. And say: “Well. That’s inconvenient.” And then take the time to look around and see what’s going on around you.
Create Holiday Joy with Forgiveness
When we think of forgiveness, we tend to think of people we know, and how we may need to dig deep and find it in our hearts to forgive someone for something they have done to us, how they hurt us.
This is not what I am going to challenge you on today. This time of year anxiety, nerves, and tension can run high.
What I am suggesting is that you dig deep, and find it in your heart to forgive strangers.
You know, that person who cuts you off while driving, who you want to teach a lesson by tailgating. They could be hysterically crying bc they got laid off and they don’t know how they will buy gifts this year. Forgive them.
That grouchy older lady in line in front of you, with 76 coupons, at 6 pm on a Thursday when you just want to get home to your family; forgive her. It’s not her fault you waited until the last minute to grab one more thing. Maybe she doesn’t have a family to rush home to like you.
Forgive what you don’t know because you don’t understand it. You have no idea what anyone else is going through, ever. No matter how they appear.
So find ways to shake it off, laugh it off, pray for them, dance it off. The only person suffering when you get and stay angry at a stranger is YOU! Nothing is worth your serenity at a time that is supposed to and can be filled with joy. Your reaction is your call!
Not to mention, all this stranger-forgiving may actually be great practice for the family and friend forgiving that lurks behind the scenes. You never know!
Create Holiday Joy with Respect
Following on the heels of forgiveness is respect. Be kind. Maintain respect. Both for others, and OURSELVES! Meaning, Be like Aretha, and how some respect (and grace) toward others.
Everyone has stuff, some kind of issue, maybe about money, family, work, loss, or grief. These issues can be fresh, or they can be decades old.
Here’s the thing: for some, the holiday season amplifies some not so awesome feelings. This makes the holidays a far from joyful time of year for them. Just because someone isn’t walking around crying or pulling their hair out doesn’t mean they are okay. Sooo, speak kindly and be nice! To Everyone!!
You never know what someone may be going through.
It could be as simple as not giving the big eye roll when a clerk takes a long time ringing you up. Maybe it’s their first day!
And, let’s apply this respect thing while driving! Why is it that when we get behind the wheel, we turn into monsters! Can you imagine racing ahead and cutting people off when walking in a door, or in a check out line? Or yelling, “Get out of my way!” to a slow walker at the grocery store? Then why do we think it’s ok to be so disrespectful while we’re driving? We’re not the only ones in a hurry, everyone’s in a rush. Again, the Kindness Challenge can be helpful here.
It’s pretty easy to check yourself and respect others, right? BUT it’s far more challenging to work on respecting ourselves! When you’re showing respect to yourself, you’ll automatically show respect to others, so be kind and respectful to yourself! Would you ever tell a friend that they were stupid, fat, broke losers? Hopefully not, so don’t tell yourself that! If you’re constantly practicing negative self-talk, even constant self-deprecating humor, you’ll begin to see it as the truth, and that makes it hard to succeed at anything!
Here’s a self-respect exercise for you:
List 5 negative thoughts you have about yourself and turn them into a positive…for example, instead of saying, “I’m so fat, nothing fits!” every day says, I’m getting closer to my ideal weight, and I deserve a fit healthy body.” Then take action towards that goal. Join the NewStart Insiders group, or get one of our 3 Day Starter Packs! OR, instead of saying I’m so broke, say, today I open my mind to the endless opportunities surrounding me. Maybe you’ll find sweet side hustle, like being a wellness coach with NewStart!
Bringing it Full Circle
Going back to my friend, who’s in a bit of a struggle to find some holiday joy. Maybe you are feeling the same way?
Allow me to let you in on a little secret: When you give away Patience, Forgiveness, and Respect guess what comes back to you? That’s right: Patience, Forgiveness, and Respect.
Instead of giving in to the source of your pain, give away patience, forgiveness, and respect and create real holiday joy. Remember, you are beautifully and wonderfully made. On purpose! Treat yourself and others with patience, forgiveness, and respect to reflect the meaning of the season.