Hi and welcome. You are listening to The Stories from a Quest to Live Happier podcast, and I’m your host, Nancy Jane Smith. I’m a licensed professional counselor, and in this podcast, I share my stories and lessons I’ve learned, and I continue to learn on my quest to live happier. The show notes and the complete transcript can be found at live-happier.com/podcast. This is episode 49 called Live Happier Through the Holidays, and the theme is peace.
Welcome. I’m so excited to have you here. This is episode 5 of my Live Happier Through the Holidays series, and we are talking about peace. I wanted to talk about peace this week because tomorrow is Christmas. Oh my gosh, isn’t that crazy? It’s actually Christmas Eve is tomorrow, and it’s also the first day of Hanukkah, or the first night of Hanukkah I guess I should say. We need a lot of peace coming at us this time of the year because we’re hitting the climax of the holidays.
These next few days is what it’s all about and why we have been so stressed out in the past few weeks. I want to touch on peace because to me that’s what the holidays are about, is having peace and finding peace and all of the other stuff that comes with the holidays. This is just my few tips I have for how you can touch into peace and tap into that for your holidays over the next few days.
The first one I’m going to have for is when we spend time with the holidays we spend time with the family, and for some of us that can be very, very far from peaceful. I really want to give you the tip of being curious about your family rather than judgmental. What I mean by that is so many times our families know how to push our buttons most of the time because they’ve installed the buttons there so they know exactly where to push. I really encourage you to remember the saying which is challenging I realized but it really has helped me so many times, is that everyone is doing the best they can with what they have.
Even though our families might disappoint us, and they might drive us crazy with being passive-aggressive or judgmental, they are doing the best they can with what they have at that time. We may want them to be doing better or differently and they just can’t. To remember that saying, but also to remember to be curious. Why, why did they think like that? Why are they acting this way? Why did they feel that way?
It is especially important this year because we are so divided as between families politically with what’s happening in our country based on the election, and so there is going to be some arguments I’m sure going back and forth of people that voted differently. To bring to the table curiosity rather than judgment would save some sanity and bring some peace. We’re not going to convince everyone to think the way we think, and we’re not going to convince everyone to feel the way we feel, but we can be curious and approach it …
Sometimes I like to approach family as if I am a researcher who’s stepping into my family for the first time and observing them as this neutral third-party. Rather than stepping in with all of your buttons right there and all your triggers right there, and just allowing yourself to kind of observe what’s happening. Then to remember when you do get triggered which you inevitably will because we all do, to give yourself a break around that. Triggering does happen, we do get upset with our families, and that doesn’t make us less of a person or not self-actualized enough, that makes us human.
When that happens, and you find yourself getting triggered by family, take a walk, step back from what’s happening. Take a walk, take three deep breaths. Remind yourself, “Does this matter?” In five years from now, or five days from now, will this conversation matter? Will the fact that my stuffing got burned or the mashed potatoes are runny, will that matter in five days?
Giving yourself a chance to step back and take a break when you inevitably get triggered, and when you inevitably get upset with one of your family members because that’s going to happen. Peace is the goal, but that doesn’t mean it’s a state of being all of the time. Give yourself a break, take a walk and take some time to do some deep breathing. One of my favorite breathing exercises is to take three long exhalations and then making them twice as long as your inhalation. When you’re taking your breaths to let all that air out. A simple one that you’ve heard me talk about before too when it comes to meditating in the moment is the five sense meditation.
You can do that while you’re sitting there and your uncle is yammering on about something that drives you crazy, you can sit there and go through your five senses. What am I seeing? What am I hearing? What am I feeling? What am I tasting? What am I smelling? The holidays are a great time for the sense and to tap into that. You can do that mediation without anyone even knowing that you’re meditating. It’s a great way to kind of tune out to what’s happening and tune into your senses, to tune into yourself, so that gives you a way to savor more of the holidays.
My last tip is one that may not be possible for every family, but you could do it individually, and that is to make your holiday celebration technology-free. Technology is wonderful, it does give us a break and allows us to kind of disconnect from the world. Sometimes when we’re involved in family and overwhelmed by family, it’s nice just to scroll through Instagram and see what other people are doing. At the same time, technology also can add more anxiety and stress to the situation.
If you want to make your holiday celebration technology-free, you can put a basket by the front door and have everyone just put their phone in the basket. That forces everyone to connect with each other instead of connecting with their phones and gives that idea of a technology-free holiday celebration. If no one in your family wants to participate in that which I can imagine, there are some families that don’t; then it’s okay for you just to do that yourself. Keep your phone at home or put your phone in a drawer and turn it off, and make Christmas or Christmas Eve a technology-free time where you’re shutting off your phone.
For me, last weekend, my husband and I took last weekend and had our separate holiday celebration just the two of us at home; we had a staycation so to speak. I shut off my phone, I shut off my phone, I shut off my computer; it was a technology-free time, and it allowed me to connect, and stay present and not immediately be jumping on technology or pulling myself out to check email or whatever. It allowed me to stay present. Around the holidays, not much is happening on Christmas ever or Christmas, so it’s okay to turn off the phone and just be present, and savor your holiday.
I wish you a very Merry Christmas, a wonderful Happy Hanukkah, whatever it is, happy solstice, whatever it is you’re celebrating this time of year and gathering with family to have peace and joy. I wish it to you in spades and lots of abundance. Thank you so much for listening to this podcast, and emailing me and engaging with me. I appreciate it, and I can’t imagine doing this without knowing all you people are out there listening and it’s just so much fun for me to be here recording and knowing you’re engaging out there.
That’s the show, The Stories from a Quest to Live Happier podcast comes out every week. If you have questions, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Until next time we’ll be talking about the New Year and setting resolutions and all that good stuff. Here’s to living happier.
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