When we recall Christmas past, we usually find that the simplest things – not the great occasions – give off the greatest glow of happiness.
– Bob Hope
The holiday season is only a few weeks away and you’re probably already brimming with anticipation. This year it is going to be great!
You have been making plans for months and everything is almost ready. You can’t wait to see everyone’s faces when they catch a glimpse of how you’ve decorated the house (inside and out), the new table ornaments you’ve bought, the mouth watering menu you’ve cooked up, and the perfect gifts you’ve gotten for everyone.
You tingle with excitement because you have thought of everything.
When Christmas Day comes it all races by in a rush and before you know it you’re sitting there with a cup of eggnog looking the tree and wondering where the magic went.Advertising
Is this all it’s about? The elaborate decorations, the food, the gifts – what about the magic that is advertised everywhere?
Why do you feel let down when the holiday season is all over?
Perhaps it’s time add something new or different to your plans. Below are five options for creating a new and meaningful holiday experience.
1. Assess Your Traditions
Putting up the tree and decorating the house is always done on December 15. Why? It’s tradition. That is the way it was done when I was growing up. I followed the same pattern for a while, then asked my mom, “Why December 15?” She replied, “That was when we got our mid-month pay. I had some extra money then.”
Do you have things related to the holiday season that are considered a tradition? Do you get snippy or irritated when members of your family question the tradition?
Do you know why the tradition began and why you’re continuing it? Perhaps you’re creating unnecessary stress over a tradition that has long lost it’s meaning or it never really had any value.Advertising
Change it up: As a family, create new traditions that represent your family values and current situation. You might be surprised at what people want when you open up the discussion.
2. Let Memories Stay in The Past
You close your eyes and you are a child again reliving the excitement and magic surrounding Christmas. The bright lights, the expectation of Santa, fantasizing about what you will get and the smells of the holiday goodies coming from the kitchen.
Are you trying to recapture a particular feeling or experience from your childhood?
This rarely works. You are attempting to recreate an emotion and a mood that cannot be reproduced. You are not the same as you were then nor is the situation the same.
Change it up: Create an experience that is meaningful and has value for everyone right now. A new memory that your family and friends will cherish long after the season is gone.
3. Let Go Of Others’ Expectations
You are surrounded by family, friends, society and rampant commercialism and each one of these comes with a different expectation for the holiday season.Advertising
They expect you to have a tree with decorations, buy everyone a perfect gift, have a fabulous meal and be happy and joyous!
Many people love all of this, but there are others who feel trapped by all the expectations. If you love it, great! If you don’t, why do you do it?
Change it up: What would be your ideal Christmas? Perhaps minimal decorations, no gifts, a simple meal and a day spent with loved ones. What would it feel like if you did what made you happy rather than feeling bullied by the expectations of others? Try it out and see!
4. Stop Aiming For Perfection
Around the holiday season, you often here people saying, “I want this Christmas to be perfect!”
When I hear this, I want to ask, “Perfect for whom?” Everyone’s idea of perfect is different.
For me, a perfect Christmas would be snuggled up with my beloved in front of a blazing fireplace sipping mulled wine. For another, it would be being surrounded by the boisterous laughter and gaiety of family. Someone else might consider sitting on a beach to be the perfect antidote to the wintry Christmas season we always see on TV.Advertising
Creating perfection is a difficult task, for it can only be seen from your perspective. If you are trying create a perfect holiday for someone else, you are setting yourself up for disappointment.
Change it up: Expand your perception of a perfect day. You might rephrase your wishes to, “I want this holiday to be a reflection my love and joy for my family.”
5. Be Fully Present In The Experience
You have spent weeks in preparation for the big day only to feel tried and disappointed when it’s all over. At the end of the day, have you ever thought, “Next year, I’m not doing this”?
Change it up: On Christmas Day, slow down and fully experience each moment. Clear your mind of thought or judgement allow yourself to be immersed in the richness of your senses.
Breathe deeply and let your senses guide you. Listen to the laughter and giggles of the children or to the soft music in the background. Hear the real joy being expressed by a special gift. Smell the rich scents wafting in from the kitchen or perhaps the pine boughs on the mantle. Let you eyes rest on the colorful lights reflecting off the snow or each beautiful face in the room. As you eat, savor each bite of food and pay attention to the different flavors. Shift down to your heart and feel the love and joy in the moment.
At this level of experience you are receiving your deepest and most long-lasting gifts!
May this holiday season be rich with unique experiences and memories that fill you with joy!
Featured photo credit: Close up of Christmas market stall in Basel, Switzerland via shutterstock.com
Last Updated on January 17, 2019
8 Simple Mindfulness Exercises to Bring Peace and Happiness to Your Life
In life, we all need to be conscientious of what we are doing. You don’t need to live a life of stress if you don’t want to. You can achieve peace and happiness in life by carefully building mindfulness exercises into your life’s routine.
Exercising mindfulness isn’t rocket science and as importantly, you can do it. It will, however, take a few tries to get into the groove of things but once you get it, it is like riding a bike, you will never lose it.
Trust me. It’s in your best interest to learn and put these mindfulness exercises into practice. In this article, I will share with you 8 mindfulness exercises that will help you to boost your energy, vitality and live a more peaceful and happier life.
Table of Contents
Why Is It Hard to Live A Peaceful And Happy Life?
Our Habitat Has Become Too Technological
The world has accepted the idea that technology is often the cure for all evil. We have accepted, as a society, that everything technological will make us live a better life without fully investigating the many side effects that modernity brings.
There are a number of technological side effects that have a tremendous impact on your life that the media rarely tells you about. Some of them include self-harm, economic inequality, having less sex, and even suicide. The global community is becoming less happy because of technology.
How can anybody live a peaceful and happy life when they are depressed? Technology advancements, ladies and gents, is a major reason for why we are living a poor life because it has infiltrated our lives too much.
According to my research, Americans spend an average of 8 hours a day looking at the computer screen — The average screen time spent on smartphones alone is about 20 hours per week. That’s a lot! No wonder why living a happy and peaceful life is so difficult these days.
Too Many People Don’t Want to Unplug
Americans check their phones an average of 80 times during vacation. Some admit to checking their smartphones 300 times every single day. In countries like Brazil, India and China, the situation is no different.
The reality is that people are constantly plugged into technological devices and this behavior is literally making people all over the globe fight an inner war with themselves, which consequently makes them very sad. As we know, war is the enemy of peace which won’t make anybody happy.
We have a global anxiety epidemic because people don’t want to unplug from their smartphones and most people aren’t doing anything to fix it. It is a sad state of affairs but very real. This obsession with technology is turning us into perishable robots who live terrible lives.
The era of anxiety is here to stay. There is little doubt about it. We can, however, fight back with the best remedy of all — We call it mindfulness!
Thank God there is an antidote to this whole technological madness. Without further ado, let’s go straight to the mindful exercises.
8 Mindfulness Exercises to Start Practicing
There are tons of mindfulness exercises available for you to engage with out there. In the paragraphs below, I will include the best ones I’ve personally tried or have seen my close friends and family members try.
Are you ready for it? Let’s go!
1. Pray Daily
You should pray on a daily basis. Why is that you may ask — Well, because science has told us to do so.
When people pray, they feel peaceful, almost eliminating anxiety. Worries become secondary, and often gives people energy and hope to cope with the difficulties of life.
Prayer can make you more confident and focused. Prayer also helps you with self-control, helps to control pain, and can protect you against illnesses and disorders like cancer and high blood pressure. At least, this is what researchers from Harvard Medical School have said.
Pray. You won’t regret it.
2. Pay Attention to Your Inner Thoughts
A lot of people allow themselves to be influenced by their negative thoughts. Be different and resist believing in them. It is a bad habit that can lead to unhappiness.
By the way, if you do feel this way, chances are high that somebody other than you put these thoughts into your head.
Here is my secret to combat this cancer — look at things objectively. I bet that if you look at things as they are, you will realize that most if not all of your negative thoughts are only inside of your head.
If you pay close attention, you will quickly realize that these voices aren’t worth your time. Believe me — Ignoring them and looking at things with objectivity is often the best course of action.
This article can guide you to beat negative thoughts:
3. Smile Often
Smiling will slow down your heart. It will also relax your body because when you smile, your body releases endorphins which in itself has a number of positive benefits for you as a person.
Smile often! You may want to smile early in the morning, during the day, and late in the evening. It is amazing what happens to you when you decide to smile instead of being grumpy.
Surrender your problems to a nice smile. You will notice two things. First, most people just don’t which makes them live a miserable life. Second, if you decide to smile often, you will eventually smile unconsciously which is the ideal.
The moment that you smile unconsciously, you then know that you are truly happy.
4. Organize Your Working Desk
A messy desk will make you less productive and can agitate and overstimulate you. You don’t want that.
When you clear your desk, you engage in deep inner-thinking and your systematic decision making ends up becoming therapeutic.
Most people realize that they are most creative when their creative space is clean and organized. The former often makes people more aware of what they are doing which lends to less stress and more productivity.
Organizing your desk will also make you more energetic and focused because order often decreases chaos which is a condition that often slows down daily progress.
5. Celebrate Your Friend’s Victories
I love this mindful exercise. One of the best ways to live a happy and peaceful life is to celebrate the victories of others. When you do that, you automatically make your friends in a better mood which makes you in a better mood, as well.
Happiness is contagious! We might as well celebrate others as much as we can. If you find out that your peer has won an award, celebrate with him! If your friend is the recipient of a local charity award, celebrate with her!
What is also awesome is that when you celebrate with others, they often celebrate with you in return. This, ladies and gentleman, will make you feel fantastic. You can’t go wrong with this one, period.
6. Listen to Your Spouse/Partner
God put someone in your life for a reason. You might as well listen to him or her.
I listen to my wife everyday. In fact, I often ask the following question to her, “Amanda, what are your thoughts about…” or “What am I missing about…” It is shocking what I hear back from her. Without her having much context and perspective, by the art of observation in my own nonverbal behavior and the behavior of others, she accurately gives me incredible insights which helps me out with living my life to the fullest.
I’m a firm believer that spouses are supposed to engage in interpersonal communication every day. I most definitely do and will continue doing it. You should do the same.
7. Give Yourself a Break from Technology
You can’t be in total equilibrium if your computerized devices control your life. You must get away from technology on a daily basis.
How do you do that? This is my formula:
First, take this smartphone control test. It is only ten questions but this test will place you somewhere in the human robot cycle continuum.
If your score is between 25-30, take a break from the computer (or smartphone, pad, laptop/desktop) every twenty minutes and stop being on a computerized device after 8:00pm.
If you score between 30-35, still take a break every 20 minutes but stop being on these devices at 5:00pm.
If you score more than 35, you need to take action immediately.
Limit computer use as much as possible throughout the day. Give yourself as many breaks from the computer as possible. Are you ready for the challenge?
8. Go Exercise
Go exercise at least three times a week. I don’t care if you need to workout early in the morning, late in the evening, on the weekends or during work days. Working out is absolutely imperative for you to live happy and peaceful life.
The stresses of the modern world are too much for you to neglect this important mindfulness exercise. When you go to the gym, you burn calories, focus on activities one step at a time, your mind relaxes, anxiety decreases, you sweat and often think about topics unrelated to your work place among many other benefits.
You must exercise at least three hours each week for optimum results. Why? Just take a look at all the benefits of regular exercising:
The Bottom Line
It’s in your best interest to learn and put these mindfulness exercises into practice. Now that our habitat has become too technological and many people just don’t want to unplug, engaging in daily prayer, celebrate your friends’ victories, and listening to your spouse are among the best ways to be mindful about what you are doing and how you are living.
It is possible to live a happy and peaceful life. It only depends on you.
Go exercise! Take a break from technology and invest in you! Life is too short for distractions.
More Resources About Mindfulness
- How Mindfulness Can Improve Our Focus and Productivity
- Meditation for Beginners: How to Meditate Deeply and Quickly
- Meditation Can Change Your Life: The Power of Mindfulness
- 10 Amazing Benefits of Mindfulness Backed by Science
- I’ve Tried Mindfulness Meditation, Here’s Why You Should Try it Too
Featured photo credit: Lesly Juarez via unsplash.com
|||^||The Conversation: What might explain the unhappiness epidemic?|
|||^||Fox News: Americans don’t know how to ‘unplug’ on vacation, study finds|
|||^||Develop Good Habits: 71 Mindfulness Exercises for Living in the Present Moment|
|||^||Care2: 7 Proven Health Benefits of Prayer|
|||^||In Touch Ministries: 14 Benefits of Prayer|
|||^||BBC: Can’t unplug? Here’s hot to navigate your digital anxiety|