Hold on to Hope

by Dr. Emily Shupert

Happiness. It can be hard to express when going through challenging times, especially during the holiday season. Depression, anxiety and life transitions have a way of kicking the wind out of us and leaving us without any extra energy to search for signs of silver linings.  When going through our own "dark night of the soul," sadness can be even more pronounced during what we think should be a happy  holiday season.  

Even in the sadness, the emptiness, the loneliness, you have a choice - I have a choice; we all have a choice.  We can choose to focus on what is lacking and lose ourselves in the endless comparison game through social media, holiday parties, and perfect family pictures.  Or we can choose to fight back to find happiness. The journey to happiness begins with accepting  what is and what is not, allowing this season to be enough.  

During a low season in my own journey, I read Margaret Feinburg's book, Fight Back With Joy.  In her memoir of her battle with cancer, from diagnosis to remission, she learned how to experience happiness most fully when most people would have felt defeated and despondent.  

"Create your own permission slip for joy. Write three words: Accept. Adapt. Depend. Carry this permission slip with you. Tell your friends you’re working on becoming more content/ more joyful. Take a nap. Live with a messy house for a time. Order takeout. File an extension on your taxes. Stare out the window. Linger in the company of a friend. Breathe in the fullness of life. Use those words to fight back with joy.”

Maybe this season is a happy one, maybe not. You might want to hit the snooze button until Jan 2nd so you can get through the painful moments and memories. Perhaps  life looks a bit different than it did in years past and you've woken up with more questions than answers. Whatever you are facing, we want to remind you that happiness is always a choice, a better, braver, and bolder choice that we are committed to choose too.

This December, we encourage you to hold onto hope, even if it's only a faint and feels foreign.  In the imperfect, unstable, and unknown parts of this season, we hope you fight for and find happiness.  We hope that you are able to see that you are, it is and we are all, in process and it is ok. Lean in, press onward, let's make this the happiest holidays we’ve had yet!