Do the Holidays bring out your best attributes or your worst?
Clearly the Holidays carry more stress and strain than you recall as a kid. Is it because you never knew the “responsibility” side of Christmas when younger? You didn’t see ‘behind the scenes’ of Santa’s activity?
Alternatively, have you lost some glimmer and shine because of the pace, expectations and desires? Fun has a way of being minimized when to-do lists, deadlines and expectations fill your mind all day!
It seems like the holidays are becoming like the Academy Awards or the Super Bowl Half Time Show – every year is expected to be better than the last.
As such, the pressure to make it “super special” begins to drown out the joy of the season. You have inadvertently climbed aboard a train bound for the adult version of ‘misfit toys’ – it is called:
The Land of “Unquenchable Expectations” and “Endless To-do’s.”
These two issues create stress and kill happiness. Don’t get me wrong – I’m all for setting high expectations and shooting for “the best holidays ever.” That’s not the problem.
It isn’t “high expectations” or “lofty desires” that derail you – it is:
- Failure to appreciate what you have
- Forgetting to reflect on the positive.
Over the Thanksgiving weekend I was talking to a very successful friend of mine. His words hit me between the eyes. He said:
“Everything is good my friend – better than I deserve.”
“Better than I deserve.” At its core – the words are humble, reflective and grateful. This is the exact opposite of “unquenchable desire” or “endless to-dos.” It doesn’t indicate what “could have” or “should have” gone better.
Do you feel “better than you deserve?” Do you display it? Do you think it? Do you use those words with friends?
If not, it is worth trying. It is the key to keeping perspective.
People who regularly express gratitude have better experiences in life. Expressing gratitude forces a “half full” perspective. An interesting fact – you can’t experience a “positive” thought and a “negative” thought at the same time – you get one or the other. It’s that simple.
Consequently, if you proactively express gratitude (a positive thought) you are stacking your “cognitive deck.” Put simply, filling your head with positive keeps the negative at bay. Doing so creates the Holiday perspective you desire.
I challenge you to try it for a week and see the difference. If you are up to it – follow these 5 steps.
- Get a base line. Listen to your words and thoughts for at least one day (preferably two). Determine your default direction – positive or negative. Monitor trends – is there a difference at home or at work? Are there certain situations that bring out one or the other more predictably?
- Target the most negative. Based on your assessment – target the areas where negativity prevails. This is where you start. For example – I’m horrible when driving – every other driver is a moron if you ask me!
- Deliberately change the script. Maintain a high awareness during the targeted areas. When you are in those situations – deliberately express gratitude. Find the positive and be grateful for it.
- Repeat until it is the new normal. It won’t happen overnight – work it until it becomes the norm and you can do it with less effort and more sincerity.
- Pick the next area to work. Keep doing these steps until you hit the 80:20 rule. 80% of your daily experiences are filled with some form of positive gratitude.
Remember, there is nothing wrong with high expectations or to-do’s. However, when they control you rather than the other way around, it is an issue. Make these Holidays better balanced with to-do’s and Fa La La!!
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