I hope that everyone survived the Thanksgiving holiday last week!
While I could tell you that Thanksgiving should be a time of gathering with family, cooking our favorite family recipes handed down for generations, and expressing all that we have to be thankful for (and in an ideal world it would be), realistically that would be coating the truth with a sticky sweet syrup sending most of us into an emotional diabetic coma. The truth is that, for many of us, the holidays can deliver loads of anxiety, stresses, and an overall feeling of anticipation of it all coming to an end. For many, the schedule of the holiday season simply doesn’t provide enough time for us to accomplish the tasks that we would like to accomplish so that we can actually relax and enjoy the few days off of work we have with our family, friends, and table full of food.
I believe I would be doing a disservice to all of you who are diligently on the “hunting happiness” track with me in the quest to find an authentic approach to a meaningful life if I told you anything otherwise.
Instead, I would love to initiate a real and honest dialogue about how we can re-think our way into moving forward into the ever stress-filled holiday season so that we can truly experience ‘peace in our own personal earths while maintaining a sense of good will towards all men.’ With all of that being said, I believe the real key to attaining the aforementioned peace and happiness is (and don’t laugh) gratitude.
While this may seem like I’ve just contradicted myself, I can explain.
I believe the ‘idea’ of Thanksgiving and a happy holiday season is something that has been sold to us, or even pushed on us, by a very unrealistic expectation of perfection. In my opinion the expectation of perfection is what will literally rob you of the authentic joy and peace that this truly magical time of the season is here to offer you. But there is, in fact, a way to live your life that will cause you to experience joy in your world while making all things a bit more merry and bright. I like to call it “ThanksLIVING”.
We simply cannot spend the entirety of the holiday season stressing over how much we can afford to spend on gifts, what we are going to wear to our office parties, making sure the kids look good in their pictures with Santa, or how late we are running to our family dinner and honestly expect a ‘Norman Rockwell perfect’ experience when we are in the moment of what is ‘supposed’ to be a perfect celebration of what we deem worthy of a festive memory.
When we spend so many of our hours reaping thoughts of dread, anxiety, and fear in most of our down time, how can we expect to sow moments of bliss, joy, and happiness in our hours of crunch time? Remembering that old adage of “you get what you give” we must reclaim responsibility for our own thoughts and actions when surfing the emotional wave of the highs and lows that the season can present.
How do we do that? By adopting an attitude of gratitude, in all things, I believe we can achieve a more peaceful season.
Be grateful for everything in all of its imperfection; Being grateful even for the things that may seem a legitimate reason to stress out.
Though you may hold the desire to purchase every gift on your children’s wish list to place under the Christmas tree, be grateful that you have electricity to light the tree for them. Though you may hate the idea of spending your down time having to go the office party, be grateful that you have a job. Though you may really, really dislike the idea of spending another holiday dinner with your in-laws, be grateful that you found the love of your life! The power of creating your own happy holiday season is by re-claiming the power of re-framing your thoughts. When we approach every situation with gratitude, no matter how stressful it could feasibly be, we literally pave the way from a superficial “giving of thanks” to a very palpable and meaningful “living of thanks” which in turn will bring more and more opportunities into your life to realize the beauty and grooviness of all that life can be, even during the holidays! So no more bah-humbug thoughts for us.