Monday, November 24, 2008

Sail Through the Holidays with a Smile

My wife, daughter, my son, and I are on a road trip to California. We are determined to have a happy and meaningful holiday experience, even if the devastating economic crisis hangs over us like a dark cloud. We are not going to let any doom or gloom ruin our fun. Listening to Suze Orman, the financial guru who frequently appears on television, has made me realize that the holidays can be extremely joyful even in the hardest of times. The holidays for us are about being together, singing, eating, reaching out, and taking time to breathe. This isn't necessarily what we always actually achieve because we are stressed out like the rest of you. However, our desire is to wholeheartedly participate in these activities and decrease the emphasis on "stuff." We have to be careful with our spending. As an alternative, we are reaching out more to others.

While driving, I had a desire to reach out to you. Some of you are very happy this holiday season. If this is you, then spend time really counting your blessings. Others of you are having a hard time. If you are one of these people who are facing hardship and/or strife, take a step back and assess the positives that you actually have in your life. Refocus your attention on the small things that bring you joy. If you cannot find anything to appreciate, go outside and find something to smile about. Smile at a child playing or at a squirrel going up a tree. When we refocus our attention on "smaller things," our minds take a break. Once you return to the challenges you face, you will find that your powers of problem-solving are strengthened and your ability to experience joy in your life is enhanced. If you need further tips for managing the stress of the holidays, I encourage you to read a Mayo Clinic clinic article, Stress, depression and the holidays: 12 tips for coping. I wish you all the best.