Over the last few weeks, I had the opportunity to lead two journal workshops on this exact topic. I knew I was not alone in my feelings of getting so “wrapped up” (pun intended) in the day to day tasks of holiday preparation that it stopped being fun. Ever since my moment in the mall, I’ve made a conscious effort to remember joy throughout the holiday season and I wanted to share some ideas that have worked for me over the last couple years. One of our exercises was to write down what we think of when we think of the holidays. In one column we listed all the emotions that we associate with the holidays and in the other column all the physical things, like the tree, gifts, etc. After writing down everything we could think of, we looked at how the emotions aligned, or did not align, with the things that were on the list. We discussed traditions that we were maintaining that we really didn’t even enjoy. We discussed things that were on the list just because everyone else is doing them. We then prioritized the emotions and the things, which ones meant the most to us and which ones should we try to eliminate. Emotions like stress and family drama were definitely on the elimination list, but how to eliminate led to a great conversation. We talked about the work that Shawn Achor has done studying happiness. His research has shown that happiness and negativity are contagious. We have far more influence on those around us than we might realize. Our mirror neurons instinctively reflect happiness, someone smiling at you, or negativity, someone impatiently waiting for a plane, around you. (You can watch the talk here.) We concluded that family drama may be inevitable, but that we all have a choice on how we are going to approach it and what we are going to do.
Has the stress of the season sucked all the joy out of your holidays? I know how hard it can be and am here to help. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let's set up a time to talk.