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Finding Joy Peace in the Holiday Season

The holidays often bring up a variety of emotions. The expectation that we should be feeling jolly and grateful throughout the season can create a tremendous amount of pressure. Uncomfortable emotions such as stress or loneliness can have us seeking external ways to fix it.

We look for joy in people, things, food, and drink. This kind of joy is temporary, and unreal, since it is dependent on something outside of us.

Humans tend to consistently tell themselves stories that impact their sense of happiness or self-worth. For example, if you believe a certain family member is critical, everything that person says will be interpreted as criticism. A simple comment can trigger the thought, “I will never get her approval. Nothing I do is good enough.”

Often the response to the thought is to become unhappy or angry and may ruin your family visit. At that point, many people will mask the uncomfortable feelings with overindulgence of food and drink. It is the mind’s attempt to regain control in the face of unpleasant emotions.

Just like a rebellious child, our emotional side fights back with self-punishment or escape. And the cherry on top of this stinky sundae, we like to blame everyone else for making us feel that way.

No one can put feelings inside someone else. Every person is the originator of their thoughts and emotions. Humans rarely look at something or someone in their lives objectively, without judgment.

The realization that it isn’t the person that is making you happy, or unhappy, but your thought that they are, restores your inner power. Other people’s actions cease to have an effect on you.

The easiest way to have joy and peace during the holidays is to let go of the attachment to whether something is good or bad. One Christmas Eve, I was stuck at Dallas Airport for eight hours. I missed my family’s Christmas Eve dinner and was stranded in an airport. After hearing the announcement of the delay, I was instantly angry, frustrated and upset. My heart started racing.

I started to feel sorry for myself because I was single and traveling alone on Christmas Eve. I stopped my rambling thoughts for a moment and became present. I made a conscious decision to shift my perspective and accept the situation as it was. My thoughts weren’t going to change the departure time, or the fact that I was single and alone.

I decided I could spend eight hours in anger, or eight hours in peace. I watched the people, witnessed their boredom and frustration and felt removed from mine. I went into a restaurant and sat next to a man at the bar who was also experiencing a long delay.

We had an amazing conversation about life. He was very depressed, going through a divorce and wondering where his life was leading. Our discussion brought him to a calmer emotional state. I felt blessed that I was there for him. We could have spent a few hours complaining about the weather and the airlines. Instead, we had a deep conversation about true joy.

I did not know how the eight hours would turn out at first. My mind quickly made a false assumption of how I should be upset that I could have easily lived into. Instead of trying to fix it, I approached the situation from a clean slate of openness and acceptance. With that attitude, I was able to create my own experience.

As you go through the holiday season, your mind will be constantly making assessments of what is right and wrong. Be present with your thoughts. There is a space between the mind chatter that is silent and peaceful, where joy lives. Joy is not found in the gifts, eggnog, desserts or holiday turkey. Nothing outside of you brings the silence, it is a natural state within.

Experience the holiday shopping crowds, the travel, family interactions with a feeling of acceptance and non-attachment. See beyond the words and actions of others and find beneath it all a sense of unity and love. The best holiday gift is not wrapped in a box, but in your present state of mind.

debra berndt is a certified hypnotic love coach, host of the love coach radio show, and author of the upcoming book, “let love in.” get free attract love mp3 download and her weekly dating advice newsletter from her website at attractlovetoday.com

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Listed: November 18, 2008 12:08 am