As much as the holidays bring people together in the spirit of love, cheer and peace, the cruel reality is that they also bring moments of depression and sadness. Negative emotions can be magnified during the season of what should be festive celebrations. It’s no mystery at all that joyous times with family and friends co-exist all too well with grief and sorrow. It is the way of the world. No matter your age, culture, gender, social status or religion- there is the “good” in life, and there is the “bad” in life that can BOTH be happening at the same time, but there is good news.
You are in charge of your happiness 100% of the time.
You can control the way that you experience happiness.
But what does that look like??
I will say this: being responsible for your own happiness ALL YEAR LONG makes it easier to navigate through the potentially tumultuous waters of the “holiday blues”. It’s like a runner preparing for a much anticipated track meet. He practices for one race, that lasts possibly a maximum of two minutes, years before the actual meet. It takes preparation and endurance to complete years of practice just to win a race that is over just as quickly as it began. The holiday season lasts approximately 40 days, if we count the days from Thanksgiving until the new year, yet 40 days can bring so much sadness to our lives and overshadow all the blessings of the other days of the year if we let it. Memories of loss, disappointment and grief can flood our emotions and drown out the joy of the season. The key to overcoming that potentially melancholy short period of time is mastering your emotions and taking responsibility for your happiness the other 325 days of the year then using those same tools and coping strategies during the holiday season, if necessary. But what does THAT look like?
You must know that:
#1. YOUR happiness is not based on what other people do or say. I know that may sound far fetched, but it is true. You are not responsible for other people’s behavior and choices, but you are responsible for how you respond. I think that you would agree that most of our discontent is because of the poor decisions that other people make, especially if their choices negatively affect us. I spent many nights frustrated, aggravated, hurt and confused about WHY people did what they did. Understanding and sorting through the mess of other people’s poor choices consumed a HUGE amount of energy AND time- things that I will never be able to get back. Once I understood that always understanding people’s motives and actions will not necessarily bring an end to the hurt or clarity to the situation, I stopped spending my time trying to figure out other people’s unresolved issues. I resolved to take responsibility for the only person who I could hold accountable- MYSELF. As I began to pour energy into identifying the lesson that adverse situations held for me, my perspective and my attitude changed, and I realized an even greater potential to be happy simply because I finally realized that I was in control and that I could be happy despite other people’s poor choices, behavior and attitudes. TALK ABOUT LIBERATION!!!
#2. Happiness is intentional NOT accidental. I am more powerful when I work with intention to be happy! I don’t wake up and hope that I will be happy; I set the intention to be happy before I leave the house and before I encounter any person or predicament that could potentially threaten my peace. The most empowering concept to realize is that I have more control than I ever thought I had. Being intentional with my mood and my happiness takes work; don’t get it twisted, BUT it is the absolute best work that I can do! I put myself at an advantage knowing that I am solely responsible for setting and maintaining my outlook. If I waited for someone or something else to make me happy, I would spend every day of my life giving away my power to others’ ability and desire to make me happy, and THAT is not the kind of life I want to live!
Know what makes you happy, and know what makes you unhappy. Be clear and be firm about your personal boundaries and BE EMPOWERED!
#3. YOU define your own standard of happiness. Just because something makes your loved ones happy doesn’t mean that is supposed to make you happy. Just because everyone else is in love with “it” doesn’t mean that “it” is right for you. Trying to please everyone, especially if you neglect how you really feel, strips you of the power to be happy. Happiness comes from knowing that you get to define what makes you happy, and that is a lovely thing!
I have challenged people to make a list of at least 15 things that make them happy, and the only prerequisite is that it MAKES THEM HAPPY! It doesn’t need to make sense or be approved of by anyone else- only the person making the list (I have doing sudoku puzzles on my list). I also suggested to keep the list handy so on days that a person is feeling contrary, they can easily access the list then do something on it to shift their mood. THAT is a practical way to take charge of your happiness!
Here is the bottom line: if you are not proactive in creating your own happiness NO ONE ELSE WILL BE. YOUR happiness is up to you, and I know that it sounds simple- and in theory it is- but HAPPINESS TAKES INTENTIONAL, CONSISTENT WORK, and the truth is instead of putting in the work, many people are content to be unhappy and place the blame on everyone else besides themselves.
YOU are empowered to take your happiness back. SO DO THE WORK.
Then spread that same joy to others. The world needs more happy people.