Thursday, December 29, 2011

Holiday Cheer or Holiday Sneer?

“ #*&$^@*”  Is this you this season?  Your guests are still visiting or you’re due to travel home, presents need to be exchanged, family patterns are taking their toll, holiday madness in the airport….
Look around you.  What do you see?  Harried clerks, irritated shoppers, grumpy travelers, crowded parking lots, people with headaches.  Are you one of them?
It’s easy to get caught up in the minutiae of day-to-day life and its problems.  Your Christmas platter broke, everyone wants something from you, your sister didn’t give you a gift list and hates the sweater you gave her.  You just want the holidays to be over.
Why are you behaving like this?  Is it making your life easier? Is it helping those around you?  Why are you perpetuating the problem?
Life moves in cycles.  The only constant is change.  Today’s craziness is tomorrow’s tranquility.  When you’re in the middle of today’s craziness,   you can’t always change things and make them un-crazy.  But you can change your attitude, and remember that this, too, shall pass.
Moods are contagious, mostly because we forget that our mood is our choice.  Other people don’t put us in a bad mood; we allowed their bad mood to affect us.
Whether you’re standing in after-Christmas lines impatient to make an exchange and slamming your credit card on the counter, blaring your horn in the parking lot, or heaving heavy sighs at your spouse, remember that “catching” someone else’s bad mood means your grumpiness may now be passed to the next person with whom you interact.
We aren’t separate from each other.  We’re all part of the universe, like a bucket of water taken from the ocean is still part of the ocean.  Energy travels.  We pick up the moods of those around us, unless we choose not to or choose to be a change agent.
The remainder of this season, let’s do something different.  When we get grumpy, stop, stand up straight, and breathe.  If you’re in a store, be patient.  Bring a book and read while you wait.
Others are also shopping after-Christmas sales and the clerk may be harried too.  Before you grumble about a distant parking space, notice you now have the opportunity for some exercise.
In fact, let’s go one step further.  If you see an irritated mother whose child just spilled her coke, step in with a napkin.   Smile at the person walking by you or the salesperson in the store.   Look people directly in the eye, and mean it when you say, “Have a great day!” Ask your family for help with a big hug and kiss instead of sounding annoyed. 
Did we forget that although it’s after Christmas, this is still a time of joy?  A time to be gracious and conscious of those around us?  To savor the moments instead of counting the days until it’s over?
I’m no different.  I see my parents once each year, and while my relationship with them has greatly improved from when I was in high school, we still have our moments. 
In their desire to protect me from failure and disappointment, they have a tendency to squash my ideas and willingness to take risks.  If I absorb that, eventually it will erode my confidence and I forget that their intentions are good.  Soon I’m past the point of no return and might say things I regret.  
Stressful times are testing.  But the more you are tested, the more you can practice not letting it affect you.  And the more you practice, the easier it becomes.  After all, it’s your choice how you respond to others and what message you convey. 
This season, let’s focus on “spread tidings of comfort and joy,”  send “joy to the world,” and remember “tis the season to be jolly” by not twisting off when others are crazy, and by sending love back instead of more craziness.
POLL: What's the favorite gift you have GIVEN this holiday? 
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