As we walk, glide, trot, stamp or choose to remain still through this holiday season depends upon a myriad of events. For many of us, there are strong emotional memories from childhood traditions that propel us to ensure a plan for a joyful Hanukkah (which already passed), Christmas, Boxing Day, Kwanzaa or other December holidays. Joy is in the air... unless it is not.
It only takes one event that can usurp any desire to continue tradition. Unfortunate life occurrences such as: illness, memories of loved ones who are no longer with us, loss of employment, a recent break-up, or an unforeseen traumatic event, can pop our internal holiday balloon rather quickly. Holidays are not for everyone so why add extra stress by pretending.
We should be able to give ourselves permission to feel sadness or grief and let the holiday pass by quietly and gently. Remembering we have a choice and there is no obligation to attend any social events takes the pressure off. Knowing you have a choice, volunteering at a community church dinner may provide the right amount of holiday stimulation and connection. Binge watching a Netflix series or check out a few DVD’s from the library for a quick escape and enjoy a quiet day.
If you know of someone who is having a hard time during the holiday season, think about doing something thoughtful for them. Find a way to let them know you care and are thinking of them. If someone you know is alone you may want to stop by with some food or send them a note.
Much of the holiday season is focused on the joy and generosity of giving through the exchange of gifts. Gifts can also come wrapped in a smile or kind action.
Joy differs from happiness. Happiness tends to be externally triggered and is based on other people, things, places thoughts and events. Joy goes much deeper. It is often sited in religious and spiritual connotations.
"When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy." —Psalm 94:19
"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." —Romans 15:13
“Set your heart on doing good. Do it over and over again, and you will be filled with joy.” - Gautama Buddha
“We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.” - Gautama Buddha
“When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, joy.” - Rumi
What were some of the joyful moments you remember in 2018? Take time to reflect before moving on to 2019.
Generosity is the bread and butter of feeling connected in our lives — to ourselves, to others, and to life itself. And it’s a practice. We all have something to give. It does not necessarily need to be material. It might be paying attention to someone in a special way that makes them feel recognized; listening fully; smiling at a person you pass on the street that you think could use a friendly smile, offering to purchase a cup of coffee or other beverage for the person behind you in line, or shoveling a neighbor’s sidewalk. I am talking about generosity of the spirit be it spontaneous or planned.
To help reduce any holiday stress think about how you are generous to yourself. Finding time for your own physical or emotional needs at this time can be challenging but important.
One last thought about this holiday season, whether you are in the groove or not, take time out from whatever emotional wave you may be riding and find ways to connect with nature. Nature, in its own quiet way, can give you the perspective you need to bring peace, hope and appreciation into your life.
Cheers to more love
for all beings on Earth in 2019.