Putting the “Happy” Back in Happy Holidays

In addition to holiday music, holiday foods, holiday parties, and holiday gifts, many of us – if not all of us – have at one time or another found ourselves in the “holiday blues.”

It’s time to put the “happy” back in Happy Holidays. And it may not be what you think. Wait a minute – it is about what you think!

To be “happy” is a state of mind. It is something we get to create. Really, were you born happy? Weren’t you crying when you first greeted the world?

All kidding aside, many of us make the mistake thinking something outside of ourselves will make us happy. It’s as though we have a list that reads: “When _________ happens I will be happy.” Fill in the blank with whatever that is for you – i.e. the perfect mate, an organized house, excellent health, well-behaved kids, amazing job, etc. At the holidays we add to that impossible list: great gifts, faultless family, fabulous dinners, pretty parties, grateful children, perfect relationship, etc.

Each of these “externals” is lovely to have. Some, if not all, are extremely desirable. Still, if we base our inner happiness on these externals, we are sure to meet disappointment. Perfection, in most cases, is unattainable. Circumstances are likely to change. What seems desirable today may make us miserable tomorrow. Happiness based on “people, places and things” is fleeting.

The holidays offer a good chance for an “attitude adjustment” — and not of the happy hour variety! Reach inside of yourself. Allow yourself to feel gratitude and appreciation for what you have – rather than what you don’t. Look for the good in that difficult family member or wayward kid. Focus on what is working on the job, not what isn’t. Have no plans and feeling lonely? Check out social groups or take a class on meditation. Feeling stressed or sad? Nurture your inner “happy” with a soothing massage or walks in nature. Accept and respect your limitations, knowing you can only do and be so much.

Love yourself.