By the look in the eyes of the lovely people I see as I’m out and about, in family and many friends, I sense feelings of overload and discouragement. So much hustle, bustle and stress to arrive at some family and social standard of expectations for the glorious achievement of hollow appearances!
I see them feigning joy as they scurry and worry about having the money to buy presents while desperately trying to figure out what to get and for whom to buy for this year, sweating and tired as they pour themselves relentlessly into planning and preparing meals, jamming their schedule with events and gatherings where they are expected to be, living in constant conflict with trying to make everyone happy and accommodating all needs and requests from the grandparents, Mom and Dad, and the kids.
So much of the magic of the holidays is overshadowed by these fruitless efforts—and the main ingredient necessary to destroy your ability to unite with peace and joy is found in the devastating stress that, like cancer, eats away so much from the experience that you become a shell of yourself going through the motions, until it’s time to pack away the decorations again with a feeling of relief that you made it through … barely.
This is the exact opposite of the real reason for the holiday season. Let’s you and I make a declaration this year to Restore the Magic and make a memorable, beautiful season for your own personal enjoyment.
This isn’t selfish, and I’ll tell you why: your happiness, peace, and joy are the best gift you can give to those people you love and to all of those you bump into in life on your way through the holidays.
Right now, make a deal with me and yourself that, this year, you will take a different outlook and activity pattern that aligns with bringing in your deepest true joy: true giving, true loving, with the absolute freedom to create a unique experience of the holidays for yourself and those you choose to bring into your experience with you.
Here’s a Holiday Season Makeover Guideline:
1. Say Yes to Saying No.
You don’t have to go. You don’t have to cook. You don’t have to please everybody. You don’t have to buy gifts. You don’t have to do anything at all. I find that, in most cases, once you give yourself permission to say NO, your true intentions surface with an authentic motivation to do those things that bring peace, love, and joy without the weight and burden of expectation.
2. Hurry Up the Slowing Down
Take a deep breath and decide you’re going to end the rushing and cramming and jamming of activities and “to-do” lists. Follow Nature’s winter pace of becoming more still and slowing down.
A famous psychologist and Nobel Prize-winning economist, Daniel Kahneman, wrote an excellent book, titledThinking, Fast and Slow, the basic premise of which is: You get a lot more done—without as many mistakes and with a whole lot more joy—when you take it easy and focus on enjoying the present moment on your way to goals.
3. YOU Matter
Spend time with people it feels good to be with. Use your energy to create experiences that bring YOU joy. Allow yourself the freedom to give yourself the gift of magic this holiday season. Stress really is a state of mind. You put the pressure on yourself; it’s up to you to let it go. Take a note from Frozen’s Elsa and LET IT GO, LET IT GO!
Release family tradition. Release obligation. Release outside appearances. Release the pressure to be everything for everyone. Once you do, you naturally start to CHOOSE your way into creating pure holiday magic!
Have the most beautiful holiday season ever this year!
Anthony Haskins is a Certified Life Coach and multidisciplinary mental health professional who, inspired by the work of Hans Selye, the “stress master,” has passionately focused his education, practice, and presenting on spreading the power to understand, overcome, and harness the life stress that underlies much of mental illness and human suffering. For almost 20 years, he sat at the intersection (as resource director) of the “Dr. Phil” platform and the millions of viewers seeking to learn and grow. He grew up in a small town in Oklahoma, continues to live in Oklahoma. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Oklahoma State University and his juris doctorate from Southern Methodist University Law School. Learn more about him at AnthonyHaskins.com.