The Holiday Season is here, and our thoughts turn to family, friends, and community. With COVID in our lives, no doubt those thoughts have been modified to some degree. And yet, we have shopped bargains in record-breaking numbers this year. We are still compelled to give. This beautiful attribute is almost hard-wired for many of us; it seems.

Perhaps more importantly, we may also find ourselves reflecting upon what is most central to us, such as appreciation, gratitude, love, and genuine happiness. With facial masks, social distancing, and business closures, it can be easy to lean into some form of resistance and start complaining about the reality of our times. In these moments, we can quickly abandon those higher values and thus fail to find gratitude. Once we are in a state of ‘resistance,’ it is incompatible with acceptance and appreciation, and thus virtually impossible to find where we could be grateful.

State Management For The Holiday Season in 2020

Our emotional states determine what our brains can discover. States of complaining and resistance only lead to more negativity and complaints. To resist the reality of our times, we choose a path that only leads to more anger and more resistance, and a spiraling of negativity.

It is useful to think of emotional or psychological states as ‘attractors.’ Each state will attract thoughts, memories, and perceptions that support that state of mind. Thus, if we truly want a better state of mind, we must have strategies to stretch beyond our current state and lean into that better state. Make sense?

So, let’s assume we seek more happiness. After all, who isn’t in for a bit more joy and gratitude this year? We can make this shift by choosing to focus on all the very, very specific ways in which our lives are filled with good fortune. And notice, I did emphasize the role of specificity. One global statement, which I often hear, is something like this, ‘Oh, yes, I know about gratitude. It doesn’t help me.’

Of course, they are correct. That approach is of NO value.

To actually feel better, we must nurture the state of gratitude through continuously seeking and finding those good fortunes. We must notice moment after moment of beauty, love, health, and kindness. And we must co-participate in these moments by sharing love and kindness.

In addition, most of us have eyes that work, voices that speak, and ears that hear. Yet, we rarely pause to be thankful for these gifts. We have warm homes, electricity that works virtually all the time, and cars that start and take us where we want to go. Again, we take these for granted and have no sense of gratitude. All it takes is a moment to be without any one of these gifts, and suddenly our appreciation spikes upon their return.

Why Not?

So, why not consider how we could nurture this grateful state of mind by obsessing on something new this Holiday Season? Why not seek to appreciate every possible moment we can?

If we venture down this bold path, we will quickly see how to build states of mind that are incompatible with whining and complaining? This year, more than ever, it becomes understandable when we want to whine or complain about life. Yet, understandable or not, this resistance does not help us. It does not help our children or our families.

Your Heart Is Your Biggest Gift.

Let’s imagine you are resolved to bring your “A Game” to this Holiday Season. One way of accelerating your impact on others for the Holidays is to recognize the power of a grateful heart. When you meet someone infused with gratitude, their happiness is undeniable. Happiness and gratitude are inseparable.

If we build a deeply grateful emotional state, we will find that we cannot help but share this with others. And most of those you share your smile of gratitude with will feel this, and some won’t. That will not matter. Because you will feel it, and most others will, as well.

The 7 Step Secret Sauce Recipe for Holiday Happiness

  1. Hold, visit, and revisit the intention to be grateful.
  2. With equal intentionality, intend to ignore all complaints and whining. Be relentless here.
  3. Set limits on exposure to any media that pulls for negativity, complaints, or drama. Do this for yourself and your family.
  4. For each moment of gratitude, you notice, express it. Silently or out loud.
  5. When it is possible to express appreciation for anything anyone does for you, pause and be more authentically grateful.
  6. Try your best to forgive everyone for anything you judge harshly. The judgments do not help you. And are incompatible with the states of happiness we seek.
  7. Give with gratitude built int, so your state of mind is not dependent on the success of your gift.

While bold, such an approach opens the door to a more profound experience, regardless of where you may find yourself. As I write this, I find myself infused with gratitude as I have this gift of sharing my thoughts with you for another year. With this, I also hope that you can occasionally gleam a bit of helpful direction. Have a wonderful Holiday Season!