Manu said that he gets hung up on thinking about gifts. To combat this, he concentrates on the fact that spending time with family and friends should be the main focus of the season. He sets his intentions on helping others and being cheerful.
Scott said that he feels like he is being judged. For example, if he and his wife do not exchange elaborate gifts, people assume that they must be fighting. He wishes that people would be less judgmental. “What makes a holiday any different than the other 365 days out of the year? I show and share my passion for my wife everyday,” says Scott.
I received a couple of responses via Twitter that said the best tactic to avoid the madness is to simply refuse to participate.
Finally, I received some personal messages—
- This Christmas will be difficult because it is my first holiday season since my divorce.
- The holidays are hard for my family because we are reminded of the loved ones we have lost.
- This season will be particularly difficult for my family as I recently lost my job.
Although the holidays are supposed to be a magical, wondrous time of year; they can very easily become a nightmare. A few years ago I wrote a post called 6 Tips for Stress Free Holidays and while I think that the tips there are still very useful, today I want to address some of the deeper issues that surround the holiday season.
If we think about all of the things that cause holiday stress, there is a common thread. It is quite simply a lack of peace. It is a bitter coincidence, as the holidays should be the most peaceful time of all.
If we want to reverse the tide, we must transform the stress into peace. In order to do this, we must acknowledge the stressful things and then, actively choose peace.
Indeed it can be a very difficult thing to do while we are surrounded by the madness. Still, there is much that can be done to diminish the madness and ignite the peace.
The advertisers and retail establishments of the world might have you believe that you are in fact a terrible husband if you do not buy your wife that diamond tennis bracelet. But you know better. Acknowledge what the retailer is trying to do. Then, choose peace. Recognize the intense love that you feel for your partner and let that grow and flourish until it is so bright that all of the marketing schemes in the world could not extinguish it. And when you feel that you are being judged, let that love-light burn again. If the person judging you has not experienced a love so bright as yours (a love that doesn’t need materialism to flourish) than feel no less than pity for that person. This idea can be applied to a romantic relationship, but also to any potential gift-giving scenario. The key here is to resist falling into the death grips of consumerism. If your relationship (professional, romantic, friendship, etc.) is truly contingent upon material gifts, perhaps it is time for a reevaluation.
The loss of a loved one—whether to death, to divorce, to war, or to any other thing—is never easy. In fact, the pain can be damned near impossible. The only thing that I have found that provides any solace in these instances is to love until it hurts. I mean, literally, get out into your community and love wildly. Head to your local soup kitchen and serve hot soup until your arms are sore with love. Volunteer at your local animal shelter and walk puppies until your legs are sore with love. Walk around your local park and pick up trash until your back is sore with love. This idea can be applied to any scenario that causes you sadness or emotional pain. The key here is to replace your sadness with unbridled love.
I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love. —Mother Teresa
When we boil it down, the holidays are a microcosm for life. We can choose light or we can choose darkness. We can wallow in the despair of our circumstances; or we can choose to create new ones. The holidays act as a sort of microscope. Suddenly, all of the good becomes very clear. And, so does all of the bad.
So we must choose, very carefully, what we will focus on. We must choose what life we will create for ourselves. This holiday season, I encourage you to choose peace. Allow the madness to fall away from you. Do not get wrapped up in the insanity of consumerism. Do not let the pain of loss drag you down. Give love and expect no reward. Choose peace for yourself and in turn, spread peace to the world around you.
In love & light (and peace!),