When you hear the words “Do Your Best. Forget the Rest” by Fitness guru Tony Horton, you likely fall into two camps. The first group hears these words and takes comfort in the fact that if they do their best, then that is enough. That is all they can do. Their best means they did the best they could under the circumstances. They are comforted by the fact that they gave it their best. These same words stir different feelings in the other camp. These folks hear these words and think, “Damn” it will never be good enough, there is always more that can be done and it creates a sense of anxiety in them. Their “Best” can always be improved on so there is a sense of continually needing to improve themselves and that feeling creates the idea that they can never rest. There is always more to do.
The holidays are a time where we also seem to fall into two camps. There are the people that welcome the holiday rush of purchasing gifts, seeing friends they have lost touch with, holiday concerts, parties and busy schedules loaded with activities and fun. Others find the holiday season like a part-time job loaded onto their already busy full-time job or family schedules. The holidays don’t really bring joy as much as a never-ending to-do list.
In the spirit of helping clarify what truly brings you joy this holiday season I would like to give you some things to think about over the next few weeks that may inspire you to take a breath and enjoy the season more fully.
Cancel an activity that is not bringing you joy and feels like an obligation. Many times we hold onto activities too long thinking we are building traditions when such events may have outlived their usefulness.
One of the most significant ways to increase your joy is to decrease what you require of yourself. Decide to do the best you can within your ability and capacity of time, money, and energy to make the holidays special for those closest to you. The point of the holiday is to express and receive love from those who care for you and whom you care about.
Allow yourself a little nostalgia. Nostalgia can have a powerful, intense effect on you. By the power of association, you can re-live cherished memories. Consider picking one nostalgic activity like making cookies from your childhood, watching an old movie, listening to holiday music that you like. Revel in the nostalgia and don’t rush it.
Find forgiveness for yourself and others. You have a much higher chance of having a peaceful holiday if you aren’t carrying old resentments that won’t serve you into the new year. Forgive yourself for not being perfect in every way. Try and find humor in your mistakes or moments of frailty or humanity
Buy less stuff and create more experiences. Very few people remember the gifts you got them from year to year, but they may remember going out to dinner or playing new board games or making cookies together. Consider trimming your gift list and replacing it with fun experiences and ways to spend time together instead.
Along with being more forgiving and understanding toward yourself, you have a much higher chance of having a peaceful holiday season if you remember to breathe and not take yourself too seriously. Let go of expectations and try to let yourself be in the moment and enjoy the things that matter most.
About the Author: Stephanie Hansen is a Minnesota-based broadcaster, storyteller, social maven, radio host @mytalk1071and podcaster @MakersofMN. https://www.linkedin.com/in/stephaniesdish/