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Finding Happiness and Contentment During the Holidays by Terry Zick, M.A. Will you find contentment and joy throughout the holiday season? Some people may think it would be impossible to experience happiness or contentment through the holidays. Here‟s encouraging news… when you focus on some new perspectives and strategies, you will become more uplifted and more at peace.

5. Respond to each moment with calm, wisdom and appropriate behavior, rather than react with anger, fear, anxiety.

It is important to recognize that much of our unhappiness can come from thinking about unpleasant past memories over and over. And, due to that influence, we end up with a “programmed” dread of the holidays, sometimes starting the upset as early as September or October. We get locked into disempowering self talk such as, “I ALWAYS get depressed through the holidays”, “My family always makes me upset, but I have no choice—I have to be with them”.

7. Plan ways to nurture yourself through the experience.

In cognitive-behavioral therapy, we learn about the cognitive distortion of „all-or-nothing thinking‟. This thinking means that we believe that the holidays are either going to be: all bad; all sad; all unloving; all challenging. When people say they dread the holidays, this sounds like all-or-nothing thinking.

6. Stay optimistic that things will go well, and develop confidence that you will find a way to manage/reduce any stressors.

8. Only agree to what you want to do, rather than what others want you to do. Give yourself permission to follow your truth and your wisdom. 9. Notice beauty and sweetness in every day. Connect in the heart more and more often. For example, mindfully appreciate the rich assortment of sights, smells, sounds, textures and tastes.

10. Shop within your budget. Give only when your heart feels giving, instead of giving out of obligation. 11. Set limits, stand up for your boundaries, let other people know it is important to respect your position when setting a boundary. 12. Ignore the drama, breath in peace and lovingAdditionally, we become unhappy by putting our atkindness, breath out the same. tention on all the aspects that are missing, and there13. Take responsibility for making yourself happy infore feeling empty and sad. The truth is, that the way stead of trying so hard to make sure others are we think about the season can be limited, unrealistic happy. and very misguided. 14. Validate your sadness, fear and anger in nonLet this be the year we change those peace destroyjudgmental, healthy ways. Set a timeframe to ing patterns! I would encourage you to rethink your feel those feelings, and then move on to some old patterns of thought and misbelief about the holiother activity to shift the energy. days. Here are some of the many strategies for find- 15. Focus on what brings you joy and pleasure such as play the music you enjoy, fix the food you like, ing rejuvenating appreciation of the season: see your kind of movie. 16. Make allowances for the mistakes and insensitiv1. Release unfair/unrealistic expectations of others ity of others who may have had the best intenand of our self. Be nonjudgmental, accept “what tions. is”. 17. When people who are typically hurtful to you con2. Take more responsibility for creating your own tinue to be hurtful, consider releasing the drama peace instead of expecting other people to act in a and blessing them on their journey. way that brings you peace. 18. Keep your personal power with those who cause 3. Live more in the present moment with something harm or hurt. you enjoy or are grateful for, instead of focusing 19. Practice the liberating, calming, balancing power on the past. of deep belly breathing. 4. Recognize that the past DOES NOT predict the 20. Be encouraged that experience is transformed by future, so you are empowered to change your exdiscerning attention to our thoughts, and perience.


page 4 - Winter Issue of Empowerment Magazine