Finding Happiness in the Holidays: Creating Space to Experience Joy

by Dr. Emily Shupert

Is it just me or does Christmas seem to fly by?  When I was younger, it couldn’t get here fast enough, every day felt like an eternity as we marked time with advent candles and calendars.  But now, with the hustle and bustle of family, work, friends, parties, and presents, the “adulting” version of Christmas feels more like a sprint than a slow ride through the holiday lights, Christmas pageants and Charlie Brown specials.  Everyone is rushing from thing to thing with year end deadlines to meet, presents to get, and parties to attend. In the midst of the madness, if you ask someone, “How are you doing?” I bet that 9 times out of 10, they’ll reply, “Busy!” I do it, you do it, we all do!  

So many of us have a desire for Christmas to be this picture perfect, quintessential Hallmark-like situation when it’s actually the furthest from it.  We must be intentional about our time, especially when it comes to the holidays. If we want a happy Christmas season, we need to step back and assess how we can bridge this  gap between what we have and what we want.

How do we ensure being happy over the holidays?  Well, we have to be intentional with our time. As you look at the weeks ahead, I encourage you to map out the commitments that you have to keep and those that aren’t completely urgent or important.  If you need any help with this, check out Stephen Covey’s concept for the 4 quadrants. He helps you chart out what is important and urgent, unimportant and non urgent and everything in between. I encourage you to start out your season with a strategic plan, focusing on what is the most important and most urgent and  delegating or eliminating those things that aren’t. Some things might need to go and some things you can push forward to January when you’ve got more breathing room. In order to have a wonderful Christmas, we must make time for the people and events that matter the most. When we are stressed, we can’t be present and we certainly aren’t happy.  So to have a Holly Jolly Christmas this year, say no a bit more so you can say yes to the best! We promise, you won’t regret you did!

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