The holidays are almost here and in New England the beautiful, colorful leaves of fall release their hold on tall tree branches and float easily to the ground. Meanwhile, the temperature dips and advertisers begin their marketing campaigns with aplomb. To experience the holidays with a carefree sense of joy–always looking forward to the brightness of the season–it’s important to remain grateful for everything that the holidays represent. It can be a tricky time of year to navigate for so many reasons, so if you begin now to feel a deep sense of thankfulness for all of your blessings then you’ll flow forward with the greatest of ease.
Start today by being grateful for the little things. Be aware of how wonderful it is when you take good care of yourself: eating healthy, nutritious local foods, spending time with your significant other and your kids and being around true and loyal friends. Feel how great it is to travel to and from work in your comfy car, or on public transit where someone else does the driving. If you love what you do, feel grateful for that, and if you don't, then feel grateful for the money that you earn to support your lifestyle and any vacations. Feel amazed and happy to lay your head on your pillow at night as you fall into a deep sleep. Remember that while you sleep you are restoring, refreshing and replenishing your reserves for the day to follow.
As the holidays approach, you may feel some trepidation about seeing someone who rubbed you the wrong way; who always managed to upset or bring out your awkward side. Worry not because this year you’ll have a new attitude of neutrality that will have you feeling lovely inside and not projective outside. Then, even when those pesky little feelings emerge, you can observe them and let them be, rather than give them credence.
Discover or rediscover something new to feel gratitude for and honor it by practicing or indulging regularly. Accomplishing and growing with something new or renewed builds self-confidence and makes you proud of yourself. This is a feeling that you can reach for in moments of challenge. It could be cooking, painting, reading, writing, dancing, singing, listening actively and with great interest to young people. It could even be discovering the European way of siesta, or of rest, in the middle of the day (if your schedule allows). What matters most is that you expand your knowingness of what it means to feel gratitude so that it becomes part of who you are.
I’m known to walk my talk and, through taking my own suggestions, I have recently rediscovered my love for ballet. I now take three classes a week. It’s exhilarating, challenging and awesome. What’s it going to be for you?
Here are six ways you can live with a newfound sense of gratitude this holiday season.
1. Cultivate a happy, peaceful demeanor.
If you’ve been doing the yoga on this site and reading the articles, you’re already cultivating a state of being from the inside-out. All you have to do now is make a little effortless effort and allow your outward behavior to reflect your inner state of joy and peace. If you remember to stay connected to this truth, when you feel the hurt that can come from another’s unawakened reaction or response to you, it will float through you and your natural state of harmony will stay uninterrupted. Know that everyone is being the best that they know how to be. Keeping this in mind will help to take the sting out of unpleasant circumstances.
2. Take 5 minutes in the morning.
When you wake up to either meditate or engage in free flow journaling. These habits will remind you that your attitude has a powerful influence on everything in your life. You can choose to have a positive, cheery outlook on life no matter what comes your way. Some are born with a more natural inclination towards this way of being, and others may need to work at it until the new calm, cool and collected attitude shines through.
3. Have an attitude of possibility.
We all have moments that make us nervous. Try being a stranger in a strange land; moving from a sophisticated city to living in a small town. You're a lucky person if you don't feel the need to fit in, and trust in the universe to guide you to experiences more wonderful than you could dream up. You’re free to be drawn towards spiritual friends from all over the world who share in this similar state of heightened awareness, beauty, grace and style. If you have the attitude that all things are possible, and that life offers an abundance of whatever you desire, then you are truly free. Your perspective on life is up to you, so during these happy holiday times, keep your perspective simple and light.
4. Choose to think in a settled and relaxed way about everything this holiday season.
Be chill about your food choices. If you already live a pretty health conscious lifestyle and you feel like indulging, go ahead. A little taste of this, a little sip of that, a little dip here and a little nibble there; with a relaxed mind you’ll actually assimilate, digest and eliminate more easily and readily than if you were to feel guilty about and over think your holiday indulgences.
5. Find your inner child.
Stay in your intuition, in your innocence, like the child does. Redirect your mind, emotions and body towards simple pleasing thoughts and actions when you feel overwhelmed during the season. It can get very busy. More money is spent. There’s a sense of responsibility and obligation that comes with invites, or hosting events or gatherings, but if you can stay right here in this moment, everything will be okay. There's no need to project or expect things to be a certain way. Enjoy the planning by sitting down with your to-do lists and a cup of tea. Sit for a moment in a calm state, then go about the particulars from an inner place of joy. Connect with that kid inside who was excited for the holidays and leave the adult mind to float through the tasks. When it comes time to party, choose the wardrobe pieces that make you feel great, do your hair up, and focus only on feeling wonderful from the inside-out. With this in mind, you'll glow, laugh and be free to enjoy the party.
6. Show appreciation for all the important people in your life by shifting your approach to how you handle those difficult ones.
The family, friends and coworkers who are pleasant, happy, content with themselves–the positive and always glass half full type of people–are the easy ones to be around; the easy ones to gravitate towards. It’s those who push your buttons, no matter how long it’s been; no matter how many years have passed and no matter how hard you’ve tried, that could be challenging for you.
This year try something new. Instead of engaging the second you feel that rush of discomfort inside, take a deliberate, long deep slow breath. Expand your belly to the slow count of four, and exhale to the slow count of eight. Draw your navel in towards your spine until every little last breath is released. Take two more natural full breaths in and out, and as you do this envision yourself laughing at how silly this is, really. Because in a few hours the gathering will be over and you’ll be in your comfort zone again. So use the time out of your comfort zone to practice getting familiar with what is. Stay on the edge and breathe your way through it. Redirect conversation so you can see how much people love to talk about themselves, and suddenly you’ve actually helped someone feel important and validated.
Remember to stay true to who you are and honor the part of you that is gracious, calm, centered and evolved. Let the little things go so that they don’t stick and interrupt your journey for too long. Let them settle a bit, just long enough to catch your attention and help you be more loving, understanding, careful and excellent with yourself.
Your life is a tapestry of experiences that are rich and fulfilling. Every experience helps you along your path towards growth, so stretch, expand and enjoy. Cheers!