It’s the most wonderful time of the year, or is it? For some, the holidays bring endless celebration and bliss. For others, they’re a time of tender struggle to find fulfillment. As we celebrated Thanksgiving and usher in the holiday season, the following suggestions are intended to bring encouragement to places of challenge, save ourselves from undue stress, and increase the delight we wish to know during the festive days ahead.
Survey significance. What do you and your family value during the holiday season? What’s the central theme you hope to create and honor during this time? What do you believe to be important? A shift toward significance enhances our ability to enjoy the holidays from an intentional perspective of purpose and passion. When we survey the values we hold, meaning-making and more fulfilling practices follow.
Engage tradition. Rituals provide our lives with the practice and continuity of conviction. Individuals and families thoughtful about building and maintaining traditions and rituals in their lives foster a greater experience of connection to the principles attached to such practices and to the people sharing in these beloved traditions. This year, take time to create new holiday rituals or refresh those you already treasure.
Avoid obligation. Holiday stress often arises when we meet the expectations of others at the risk of honoring our own needs. Take time to consider how you envision the holidays for yourself or your family. Are expectations of others challenging the ideals you desire to create? I encourage you to minimize these elements as much as possible to prevent the experience of stress and struggle from being the essence of how you and your family remember this beautiful season.
Renew pleasure. Has it been a difficult year? The holidays are often a time when life’s disappointments or tragedies feel especially tender. While it may not be possible to change the circumstances bringing pain or distress, it is possible to focus attention and emotion toward the aspects of life bringing pleasure and peace. Take time to remember and practice places of delight, either from the past or enjoyed in the present. Conjure these practices and grant them greater significance alongside current challenges in your life.
Serve charitably. While important to create experiences bringing joy and fulfillment to our own lives during the holidays, it’s also vital to remain connected to the experiences of others. This expanded awareness also enhances our ability to enjoy the holidays from a deeper sense of purpose. Research tells us there’s a direct correlation between our own state of happiness and the ways we embody charity and service in our life. Desire more happiness this holiday season? Find a need in your community and meet it.
Think you might only be able to tackle one of these ideas this year? Make it the last item on the list: serve charitably—and watch it transform the other life-spaces too. This has been a year where we have seen great need across our globe, and I encourage you to be intentional about fostering an experience that includes serving others this season. The privilege of making a difference in another’s life surely bestows our own transformation and fulfillment in the process, and that is indeed the truest spirit of holiday thriving.
A version of this post was published earlier this year in the Redmond Reporter.