While the holidays are advertised to bring us cheer, joy and gifts, what many of us end up with is a rack full of stress, guilt and debt. Why? First, we listen more to the negative holiday voices in our head – a.k.a. the Inner Grinch -- telling us to buy more, eat more, visit more and do more – even though we’re already stretched for time, money and energy.
Second, because we’re afraid to cause conflict or disappoint others, we make choices out of obligation and guilt, overextend ourselves, run around like energizer bunnies, and fall over in a heap of exhaustion when the holiday hype subsides.
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And lastly, we stress over little things like, “Will there be enough food?” “Will she like her gift?” or “What will the family think?” when in truth, all we really want is to connect with the people we love, experience a little peace on earth and engage in some holiday cheer.
The good and bad news is that how much joy, peace and love you experience this holiday is totally in your control, because it all starts from within you. Eight years ago, I instituted 5 Rules for Holiday Happiness, and haven’t looked back since. This holiday, I invite you to institute them too as an act of self-love. Now, I have to warn you that they’ve not always popular, other people often don’t like when you bust traditions or put yourself first. But I promise if you put them into practice, you’ll be a happier you. And a happier you always makes for a happier family and a happier holiday, and that can only be a good thing.
1. Stop Worrying About What Others Think
You can’t be responsible for how everyone around you feels about how you live your life, so stop worrying about how your family, partner and friends will react to your choices and start getting real about how you feel about your life. Ask yourself, “How do I feel about…” Give yourself permission to put yourself first.
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2. Know What Makes You Happy & Do Things Because You Want To
Ask yourself this simple question, “What makes ME happy during the holidays?” When have you been happiest? Who were you being? What did you have? And what were you doing? Do the same for your most unhappy holiday memories. Compare the two to your life today and notice the gaps. This year, give up the Big “O” obligation and the gnarly “G”, guilt. Promise yourself that you’ll do what makes you happy, even if that means not doing what other people want or expect. And, if you do choose to do something you aren’t jazzed about, challenge yourself to do it from a place of love. Ask, “What about this does matter to me?” and act from that place. It’s all about the come from.