On your mark, get set . . . go! The holiday season is upon us, and instead of looking ahead with anticipation and joy, many of us feel like we’re embarking on a marathon of social activities, errands, and never-ending to-do lists. Trying to make sure everything measures up to our standards of holiday sparkle and specialness can leave us feeling rundown, irritated, and exhausted. But there’s another way. “Let It Go” is more than a Frozen anthem for the pre-school set. It’s also a surefire strategy for giving yourself (and those around you) a truly happy holiday season, from Christmas to New Year’s Day—and the rest of the year, too!
I saw the power of a few of these little actions in the research for The Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages, and The Kindness Challenge, but it applies to all sorts of situations. Especially during the holidays, you’ll be amazed at the difference it will make if you say and do these four things.
“It Doesn’t Have To Be Done My Way.”
I know I lose many of us right off the bat with that one! At every holiday gathering, we want things to be so special. So we have a vision in our heads for the way we want the lights to be hung, the office party to work, the food to be cooked. But sometimes that means we push ourselves and those around us to do things a certain way—the best way, our way—and at some point it becomes work and leads to frustration and conflict. Which means it ceases to be special. In those cases, let go of your notions of “right,” back off your vision, and reap the benefits: more fun for everyone.
“I’m Going To Let Myself Relax And Enjoy This.”
Yes, there’s a lot of work to be done. And very often, you can do it later. Don’t miss your niece excitedly sharing a long story about the play she’s in at her school, or miss out on a spur-of-the-moment coffee date with a friend, just because you have ten things on your to-do list for the New Year’s party that need to be done. Tell yourself that you don’t always have to be the responsible grown-up at every moment. Slow down, sit down, and enjoy spending some relaxed time with the people you love.
Let go of the fourteen things you could be doing, and enjoy the five that you do. On days off of work and school, give yourself permission to just lie around and read a book or watch a movie without feeling like you have to be doing something. Unless you and everyone around you enjoys a constant whirlwind (which, to be fair, some people do!), do not overschedule. You may have a Christmas Eve tradition of Christmas caroling and a visit to the neighborhood party and driving around and seeing the lights . . . but maybe this year you do one of those each day, instead of all three. Maybe you say, “This year, the Christmas tree is going to have just lights and tinsel instead of all the ornaments.” Maybe you turn the family Christmas update letter into a January update. When you start to say, “But…but…!” tell yourself, “Let it go.”
“I’m Not Going To Let That Get To Me.”
For many folks, the holidays mean extended time with family members who push all their buttons. And having those buttons pushed is one of the quickest ways to get stressed and not enjoy the holiday! Solution? Decide in advance that no matter what Uncle Joe says about your cooking or what your stepmom says about politics, you’re going to smile, shrug it off, and not let it bug you. There are many ways to do this (for example, “Sally, I think we’re just going to have to disagree”) but the bottom line with all of them is that you’re refusing to give someone else control over your peace of mind. As one of my friends puts it, “I’m not going to let him bust my peace.”
Peace. Joy. Family. Friends. Love. Don’t miss what matters most because you’re holding on to things that are less important. Let it go. And let flexibility, simplicity, rest, and harmony nurture your holiday spirit during this extra busy time of year. You’ll enjoy the holiday season so much more!
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Shaunti Feldhahn loves sharing eye-opening information that helps people thrive in life and relationships. She herself started out with a Harvard graduate degree and Wall Street credentials but no clue about life. After an unexpected shift into relationship research for average people like her, she now is a popular speaker and author of best-selling books about men, women and relationships. (Including For Women Only, For Men Only, and the groundbreaking The Good News About Marriage).
Her latest book, Find Peace: A 40-day Devotional Journey For Moms, focuses on discovering biblical direction to become a woman of serenity and delight in all seasons – and have impact for generations to come.
Visit www.shaunti.com for more.