Life isn't perfect and people aren't perfect. Duh. But
those two concepts, however obvious, seem harder to take when you're in the time of year when memories (however foggy) and invented standards create expectations for holidays that Martha Stewart or Giada DeLaurentis would envy. If it isn't quite working for you right now, you're not alone. Trust us on this.
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It's assumed that you're going to be in the holiday mood. Others expect it of you and you probably even expect it of yourself. There's cultural pressure all around you to be festive, to spend too much money and to overindulge in holiday food and drink. It's in your face, on TV, on the radio, in the stores and even at the office. But what if things haven't been exactly bright and shiny in your life? What if you don't feel like there's much to be celebrating?
You don't have to be stuck, depressed by how depressed you are when you are supposed to be happy. Try one of these:
- Make magic for somebody else. Take yourself outside of your own head and do something special. It can be completely free - a visit, a kindness, a favor, a foot massage or a quarter you deposit in a stranger's parking meter. Volunteer to help to raise funds for a charity, or send holiday wishes to troops overseas.
- Use your hands. Or involve yourself in other activities that fully engage your attention. Activities are just like the word says - active, not passive (like when you sit letting your mind wander in front of the TV). Part of the process of cleaning, decorating, baking, and shopping for the holidays is the imaging of pleasant possibilities and happy traditions. Doing the tasks can summon the mood if you focus your attention not on the perfection, but on the people for whom you are doing it. Or do something unrelated to the holidays, like chopping wood. Completing a physical task, even if it's more maintenance than festive, gives you a sense of accomplishment. And that will lift your spirits.
- Be where other people are. Even if you don't have other family members living in your house you can be out and about. Go to church, or have breakfast out, or go to a concert. Even better, place yourself in environments where there are children. They are gifted with being the magic generators, and their sense of wonder and excitement is contagious.
- Make a point to notice the things that are going right. You're conditioned to notice the flaws, the blots, the mistakes. Most people are similar to you in this regard. But despite your early conditioning, you can choose to bring the good things into the foreground of your attention. If you have ten things left on your to do list, make sure to give yourself credit for the five you have managed to complete. Take a picture of beautiful things that you see so you can notice them all over again later.
- Close the office door. This is a time when the people around you, even your customers, want to be focused on the personal aspects of their lives. Go home. Turn off your cell phone. Go off the business grid. Release yourself for a time from the pressures of competing and open yourself to the little joys that appear when you take time to slow down and be present.
- Care for your body. When the holiday season brings a heavy load of work, however festive it's intended to be, you need more stores of energy. Make a point to eat healthy foods and invest in the sleep you need to be fully functional. Even if the task list is long, take breaks. Listen to music that helps you recharge.
The real magic in the holiday season is not "out there." It's inside of you. Regardless of your age, your gender, your recent history or your checkbook balance, you have magic. All you need to do is to tap into it.