Christmas is by far my favorite time of year. Why? Because it’s a time of year where the whole world has decided they’re going to allow themselves to feel joyful even though it’s literally the coldest, darkest time of year.
If I had to guess, that’s exactly why so many cultures have massive mid-winter celebrations. They needed something to combat the emotional doldrums that come with the winter weather. — Tom Bilyeu, Impact Theory
I like this quote because it implies that you can change your emotional state simply by wanting to. Because we associate this time of year with tradition and parties, warm drinks and camaraderie we manufacture our own joy. Everything is shiny and bright even though the days are dark and cold. Then we reinforce that feeling by surrounding ourselves with it. Decorations are everywhere, Christmas music is inescapable, bells are ringing, cookie trays are unavoidable, and I can’t get my kid out of her Christmas jammies. All of this adds up to a joyous experience.
What if we brought this kind of single-minded spirit to every day?
It’s go-time people. Less than one week until the big day. Even if you are a procrastinator it is time to get busy decking the halls. The final hours before the big day have a tendency to slap us with unexpected anxiety. With this in mind, how can we make sure that we have the best holiday possible?
Nothing causes more anxiety than rushing around at the last minute. Wrapping gifts in a frenzy Christmas Eve night will dial down your bliss factor for sure. If you are going to experience bliss, you are going to have to plan ahead. Get things taken care of ahead of time so when the big day arrives you can put your feet up and enjoy it.
The key to easing anxiety is to take care of what you can control, and leaving the rest. This involves thinking ahead. Get the gifts, outfit, food, wine, or whatever now. Make sure you have tape and enough wrapping paper or bags and bows. That way the inevitable last minute things won’t throw you off. If there’s an unexpected snowstorm or rouge family member who shows up without calling you’ll be alright because the things you can control have been taken care of ahead of time.
There is no rule that says you have to go big for your holiday. In fact, I’m guessing that the smaller, more intimate gatherings are more enjoyable than the big, loud, crazy shindigs. Set a boundary. Maybe you say no to hosting Christmas Eve for your extended family. Maybe you go to the family dinner but come home early to spend the afternoon lounging and putting the new toys together. Plan your hot cocoa with marshmallows and peppermint sticks and a movie with the people closest to you. Christmas jammies optional. Read The Night Before Christmas with your kids. Decorate cookies for Santa. Whatever makes you feel warm and cozy inside. This is definitely one of those times when quality counts more than quantity.
Unless you like getting the whole family together for a loud, messy holiday. Then, by all means, have at it. Just keep in mind that these sorts of things get crazy. Again, take care of what you can and forget about the rest.
Appreciate what you have. Be mindful of how fortunate you are to have the problems that seem so overwhelming around this time of year. Appreciate your family, especially if they are driving you crazy. Bliss depends on your state of mind. You create your own happiness and it all starts with gratitude. What you focus on becomes your reality. So focus on the good. Find something to be grateful for. There are so many things. The fact that you are reading this on whatever device you are reading it makes you more fortunate than over half of the world. Let that warm feeling of love and appreciation spread over you and spill over onto others.
Nothing will make you feel more bliss than giving to someone else. The more you give to others, the more you get back. Abundance follows generosity. Some of the wealthiest people in the world will tell you that the more they give, the more they receive. Besides that, the warm feeling you get when you give increases your love and appreciation. It’s one of the great circles of life.
The key here is not to get hung up on how or if your efforts are recognized. The gifts you give may be received without thanks, and people you serve may not seem to appreciate your service. Don’t let it ruin your faith in humanity. Know that it is important to serve anyway. It could be that people are embarrassed to accept charity. It could be they are so far down in their pit of despair that they can’t see the light that you are shining. Serve without expectation of thanks. It isn’t about the thanks anyway. If you expect recognition for good deeds, you may need to revisit why you are giving in the first place. It is the action itself that is important, not the outcome.
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Originally published on DonWings in two blogs on December 15 and 18, 2017