The holiday season is meant to be a season of family, friends, gratitude, and celebration. It’s our opportunity to reflect on the year, as difficult as it may have been, to find the blessings in your life. That’s why my gift to you this holiday season is perspective. Here are ten ways to create more joy and less stress during the holidays, and in your life; and why your life is already perfect today.
My Worst Fear
THUMP! Something fell and fell hard. It was 3:30am. Disoriented, I immediately jumped out of bed looking for the source of the sound but didn’t see anything. I turned to Lori, my wife.
Then, in a quiet, yet agonizing tone, I heard my wife call my name.
“Lori? Where are you?”I ran into our master bathroom where I found my wife lying on the floor. I quickly ran to her side.
“What happened? What can I do? Are you okay?”
“My back, the pain. It was so bad that I must have passed out and fell. I hit my head,” she said.
“Tell me, what I can do for you? Do I need to call an ambulance?”
“No, give me a few minutes,” she told me. My wife has a history of lower back problems where the pain can become excruciating.
“I thought I was next to the bed,” she explained. “The pain in my back was so bad, I fainted and hit my head on the wall.”
My heart started racing. A deep sense of worry consumed me. “What can I do?” Let me carry you back to bed,” being mindful that moving her could cause the pain to get worse.
“No, just give me a second.” I sat with her on the floor, anxiously waiting for her to feel enough relief where she could stand.
“Where did you hit your head?”
“In the front. My forehead.” I looked. No bruises, no swelling. A good sign.
After about ten minutes, she was able to stand. I helped her get back in bed. “What can I get you? What can I do for you?”
“Nothing, I’m feeling a little better now.”
It was now 4:45 am. My wife fell back to sleep. But I couldn’t. I lied there awake, staring at the ceiling. I knew I wouldn’t be able to fall back asleep. I was too anxious. Instead of waiting for the sun to rise, I got out of bed and went into my office. As you can imagine, the vision of my wife lying helplessly on the floor in pain is etched in my mind.
I couldn’t work. I couldn’t focus. All I could think about was the image of my wife, lying on the bathroom floor. I let my mind go to a dark place. What if it was worse? What could have happened? I started thinking about worst-case scenarios.
What if she hit her head hard enough to cause a concussion? What if no one was there to help her? And the most terrifying of all thoughts: What if she died? We would be left alone. My children wouldn’t have a mother and I would no longer have a wife and soulmate. What would we do?
Here’s what I did.
An Unfortunate Event and a Blessing in Disguise?
When something like this happens, nothing else matters. Many of the things that we perceive as important become insignificant.
The holiday season is meant to be a season of gratitude and celebration. That’s why my gift to you for the New Year is perspective.
10 Ways to Create More Joy and Your Best Year Yet
Here are 10 things you can do to create a happy, meaningful, and stress-free holiday; and a spectacular 2021.
1. Be Grateful. Turn your binoculars around. Focus on what you do have in your life, rather than what you don’t. Live from a place of abundance and joy rather than from fear and scarcity. Be mindful of what matters most and stay true to living your core values. Don’t lose sight of what’s genuinely important, as this will rob you of your integrity, joy, and fulfillment. Before getting out of bed, I take five minutes of gratitude to acknowledge the blessings in my life.
2. Be Present-It’s Perfect. This isn’t our practice life. Stop worrying about what’s next and enjoy what is now. The moment is all we have. Enjoy the daily miracles and the precious moments. Wherever you are in your life, right now, it’s perfect. No, I’m not suggesting it’s flawless but where you are is where you need to be. Instead of striving for perfection, which doesn’t exist, strive for excellence. Perfectionists often collapse the two, which leads to self-destruction, stress, and constant disappointment. We can always improve and grow. Become a lifelong learner. Everything really does happen for a reason. Besides, life happens in the moment, so get your head out of past regrets and future expectations to enjoy what you have today.
3. Embrace Acceptance. It’s the gateway to peace. Stop judging every experience, yourself, and others. It only leads to disappointment. Don’t hold grudges. It robs you of your personal energy and power. Take the time to forgive and accept yourself for who you are and others for who they are. The people and situations that show up in our lives do so for a reason and that reason is to teach us something. Without accepting what is, and being present so that you can clearly see what is in front of you, it becomes difficult to make positive changes and live an extraordinary life. Accepting others for who they are means accepting who you are and where you are in your life. Only when you let go is when you can create the space to bring in what you want most into your life.
4. Appreciate the People in Your Life. Think about your family. Hug them. Kiss them. Tell them you love them. Share what you admire about them. Think about your friends and other people in your life. Share an authentic compliment. Contact those people in your life who you care about but haven’t spoken to in a while. Let them know you’re thinking about them. Wish them health and happiness. It makes everyone feel good because everyone is going through something.
Everyone Is Going Through Something. Be Kind. It Will Always Come Back to You.
5. Give The Greatest Gift That’s Free. Love. Forget about stressing over finding the perfect gift and the money you have to spend. Reduce your financial stress by giving homemade gifts, instead. Start a family gift exchange within a certain budget. If they truly care about you, there’s no physical gift stronger than love. Love is the greatest gift anyone can give. Besides, love is free and comes with an endless supply. So, don’t be stingy with it.
6. Be Selfless. Help others in need. The holidays and the New Year are times for celebration and reflection. It’s a time for expressing gratitude. It’s a time to give of yourself. It’s a time to help others who are less fortunate than you. Donate to a charity in someone’s name. Volunteer. Work at a soup kitchen, organize a gift drive, and help people in your community. This also creates a deeper sense of appreciation for what you have and the value you can give to others.
7. Cherish Your Health. We often take our health for granted and only value it when it’s gone or we see someone who’s blind, in a wheelchair, or sick. Make health a core value by practicing self-care and most importantly, schedule your self-care. If you don’t have the appointment, you don’t have the commitment. Not just physical but most importantly today, your mental health, attitude, and state of mind. Take a daily walk, get back to nature, meditate, try yoga, take the time for self-reflection, read, maintain a regular sleep pattern, and exercise program. Give yourself the time for a well-deserved break. This moves you away from the stress and overwhelm, helps you relax, and reconnects you to the present, your priorities and to yourself.
8. Learn to Say No. Saying “Yes” and being a “Yesaholic” when it serves you best to say “No” or “Not right now” piles the overcommitments you made onto your plate, which counterintuitively creates the very thing you’re hoping to avoid. Disappointing others. It will also lead to additional stress and personal sacrifices when you can’t honor all of the commitments you make. “No” is not a dirty word. People will respect you more for setting healthy boundaries.
9. Create a Theme for the New Year. Fill in the blank, “This is the year of…” For example, “This is the year of living with gratitude,” or “This is the year of acceptance,” or “This is the year of self-care, forgiveness, love, putting family first, health, living in the moment,” “This is the year I become the top salesperson” or “This is the year I attain financial security,” and so on. In my book, Own Your Day, I write about time and life mastery by living with intention and with purpose rather than by reacting to everything around you. Doing so maintains your personal balance, peace of mind, keeps you focused on the priorities and core values so that you can always make the best decisions for yourself.
10. Master the Art of Abandonment. Abandon the things that no longer work for you. Get rid of the things you’re tolerating, are dragging you down, or cause stress. These tolerations can be anything from toxic relationships, an unfulfilling career, a messy office or home, something that’s been in desperate need of repair, or a conversation or action your avoiding that you need to take. Consider each toleration has a weight of 1000 pounds. So, if you ever want to know why it’s difficult to get out of bed, it’s because you’re carrying tolerations around that don’t have to be there.
Life isn’t a dress rehearsal. There’s no practice life. Flip your script to manifest what you want most (goals, joy) not what you want to avoid (fear, scarcity).
This holiday season, what I wish for you is a revived, re-energized perspective. May your New Year, and your life, be rich with joy, health, peace purpose, and love. I promise, life gets easier when you refocus on your personal values, priorities, what you are thankful for, and what is truly important so that you can live with intention and create the significant life that is worth living. Besides, when you’re in alignment, you’ll be amazed at the great things you start attracting into your life.