12 rules for finding peace and happiness
by Dianne Bischoff James —
Oftentimes it is hard to find inner solace and elation when the holiday to-do list runs amuck. When the house is strewn with unwrapped gifts and you have not had time to hang the stockings on the hearth, the season can seem more like an endless burden than a joyous event. Amidst such pre-celebration chaos, these 12 simple rules will help you restore inner peace and experience a greater sense of happiness throughout the bustling season.
Rule 1: Wanting everything to be perfect is in your head. If you are the hostess, remember that your guests are much more interested in filling their stomachs with great food than judging the scuff marks on your kitchen floor or the new ding in your wallpaper that you stare at every day. The perfection of this season is found in the special moments when families and friends sit down together, not in the state of your abode.
Rule 2: Pay attention to the smiles. As we get closer to the holidays, more smiles, kind words and thoughtful gestures are shared than at any other time of year. While you are out and about, look for the grins and well wishes. Start holding the door open for others and add a friendly greeting at checkout time. You will find yourself smiling more too, because thoughtfulness is contagious.
Rule 3: Do nothing for 15 minutes. It is amazing how refreshed you will feel when you take a few minutes to sit down in a comfortable chair and experience a moment of stillness. This inner quiet allows the mind to relax and move energy back into the body so that you can return to holiday activities with renewed zest.
Rule 4: Give each person one nonmonetary gift. This holiday, give each person in your family a thoughtful, nonmonetary gift. Think of something that you enjoy doing together or an experience that can be shared. Then write a promissory note for a backrub, a day downtown, a manicure or go to a movie that the other person wants to see. These are some of the best gifts you can give.
Rule 5: Take advantage of extended shopping hours. If you are not a fan of crowds and long lines, schedule a late-night, power-shopping trip. This is the easiest way to run through an entire department store with sanity, access the full sweater stock and get immediate service.
Rule 6: Allow yourself a holiday binge day. You are entitled to have a day with no limits and no self-judgment. For anyone who mentally monitors their calories, claim a binge day out loud and give yourself permission for total holiday munching freedom. Tomorrow you can go back to the treadmill and calorie counting, but nothing is more liberating than full, open permission to eat.
Rule 7: Sing while you work. Nothing makes the chores of peeling potatoes, dicing onions and whipping peaks of fresh cream go faster than crooning along to your favorite carols. Turn up Susan Boyle’s “O’ Holy Night” and before you know it, your lungs will be full of air, your heart filled with sentiment and the turkey full of bread crumbs.
Rule 8: Express yourself in a healthy way. Family gatherings can sometimes test our boundaries and patience. Avoid stuffing your feelings by finding a way to speak your truth in the moment — in a calm and healthy fashion. This is important because there is nothing worse than getting home and stewing about what you wish you could have or would have said.
Rule 9: Assign roles to household helpers. The holiday load is much lighter when everyone pitches in. Be sure to assign specific roles to household members with clearly identified responsibilities. When the garbage taker-outer does his job and the table-setter does her job and the dish-rinser steps up to the plate, your holiday work will be considerably less.
Rule 10: Leave some tasks for tomorrow. It is totally unrealistic to think your house has to be in perfect order after a million presents have been ripped open and a sit-down meal served. After the guests leave, put the leftovers in the fridge, sit down and watch a movie. The mess will still be there when you wake up, but cleanup will go a lot faster after a good night of sleep.
Rule 11: Express your gratitude at the table. It might be a bit cliché, but loving feelings can never be expressed enough; so use the holiday as an opportunity to tell others how important they are to you. Create a heartfelt moment at the table by sharing at least one thing that you are truly grateful for and ask everyone else to do the same.
Rule 12: Go outside for non-shopping related fun. Hiking in a nearby forest preserve, skating, sledding or building a snow fort with the kids not only burns energy but also is emotionally exhilarating for the whole family. Pick an outdoor activity, bundle up, and share in the fun and serenity of a glistening winter day. When everyone’s cheeks are nice and pink, hot chocolate with lots of marshmallows and laughs is the prefect treat.
Dianne Bischoff James, M.S., is a motivational speaker who specializes in life-enhancing transformation and encourages audiences to create a reality that is prosperous, deliberate and meaningful. She is the author of The Real Brass Ring: Secrets of a Midlife Reboot, a marketing consultant and founder of Live Your Everything. liveyoureverything.com.
Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 33, Number 6, December 2014/January 2015.