How to have a bullet proof holiday
- Written by Eric North aka “The Happiness Warrior”
“If you let go a little, you will have a little happiness. If you let go a lot, you will have a lot of happiness. If you let go completely, you will be free." Ajahn Chah
The holidays are always a time when we yearn for connection, commonality of good will, feelings of joy, and belonging. It’s also a season of heightened emotions, darker days, lingering in the past, and feelings of loneliness and regret. We all have our own experiences and biases, but deep down most of us want to enjoy ourselves and feel the happiness that’s so embedded in the spirit of the season. Every human has the right to be happy.
As The Happiness Warrior, I’ve always believed that it’s the attitude we live by and project to others that creates the patterns of the world that we live in. This personal truth is essential to all that wish to live a good life, but also take great steps to avoid.
We have the power to realize this at any time we choose in our most sacred thoughts, words, and actions. Mindset is nothing more than a choice that guides us, and the holidays are no exception.
We can develop our mindset to help us in any situation, but the holidays are when we need it the most. We can set our intention to becoming our own happiness warriors when we are unafraid to look deep into ourselves and live in a place of honesty and authenticity. With these truths we can live our best lives and be ready and grateful for everything. We can set our own course and create the story of our own magical journey. We can make every day better than the last and make each day more meaningful than before. We can create the environment that we choose in life when we are present and start living for ourselves and not for the expectations of others. The holidays are a chance to retell our story and reinvent ourselves.
I remember the holidays of my childhood with warm feelings of being with my cousins in New England. All of us piled around the living room in sleeping bags eagerly awaiting Christmas morning and the gifts and good times that we shared together. There was usually snow on the ground and I’d eagerly await the arrival of my cherished grandparents.
Memories of our most innocent times are always the best but eventually life’s pressures and struggles can take over. Over the years things changed, our paths grew further apart, and we no longer spend the holidays together. Nostalgia is powerful and these are some of my happiest and most authentic memories.
Over the years as I approached adulthood the serious issues in my family dynamic came to the surface and we began to grow more fragmented and hurt. I was struggling with my own identity and became more distant and had my own secrets to hold close. We still came together and made the effort but eventually it began to be about options rather than obligations and we saw each other less and less.
Five years ago, I decided to take a stand and asked for us all to be together. My heart is always open, and I was looking forward to the day with anticipation of happiness. I was optimistic in my expectations, but when the time came for us to gather only a few of us were on time and others had made it less of a priority. It was disappointing but I focused on the positives and shared a smile and pleasant word with everyone present. At least we were together, and the process of healing could start.
All too soon, I heard a verbal attack from across the room and slowly but surely signs of discord began to emerge. Condescension grew, but I ignored it and put on a good show. Deep down I was saddened and felt more apart and fragmented than ever.
We hadn’t seen each other all together as one in so long, but harsh words had started and been stored away for the future. Instead of a reunion it was more a let-down. In my heart, it’s always better to know that we’ve tried than to give up.
CREATE THE MOOD
Last Summer I went out to the countryside to visit family members who I once loved and cherished very much but had fallen into opposite sides of the moral and political spectrum. I was hurt by their words and actions, probably too proud, and had stayed away for too long.
As I drove out to the foothills of the mountains I took a deep breath and looked in the mirror and smiled. I told myself out loud that it would be a great visit and checked in with my intention and spirit. I’ve always thought hard about obtaining the best solution to any problem and have always tackled them in search of a happy solution. I figured this was no different and all would be well, but little did I know the ignorance and depths of the situation.
When I arrived the first thing I saw was a bumper sticker that spewed hate and disinformation. How could they have strayed so far from the truth and the people around that still loved them? It was hateful and disrespectful, but I persevered and kept on going. Thoughts of fleeing went through my head, but I knocked on the door with a quiet sense of resolution. I would be patient and listen without judgment or reaction.
It wasn’t the greatest visit, but I mostly listened and tried to keep the conversation going. It felt like we lived on different planets, but I made a few friendly gestures of reconciliation. Mostly I felt a sense of aggression and underlying desire for confrontation. Life will go on, but I need to try. It’s times like this that make me so grateful for my sense of humor and morality. I realized that I had no need to shame or judge them.
USE YOUR CHARM
The best way to spend time with people or family that you haven’t seen in a while is to be friendly and welcoming from the start in both words and body language. It’s much easier to walk into a room when we are smiling, confident, and secure in your truths. Be honest with yourself and know your shortcomings, but never fear to show up for yourself and reveal who you really are. Ask yourself what makes you feel great about yourself and see how that changes your relationships and perspective of others. Earn respect by your actions and carefully select your words. Others will mirror your actions and correspond with respect and admiration.
Always remember to:
-Listen and appreciate what someone else has to say. You don’t have to believe it, but if there are any doubts they are best kept safely in our inner thoughts. The old saying “people always tell you who they are” is always the truth. Words have spirit and never go away….
-Remember that less is more, even if you do really “know everything” it’s better to keep this to ourselves. No one likes a “know-it-all” or someone who feels the need to match our stories and adventures.
-Smiling is both the best introduction and the best escape route. It’s harder to argue with a smile, even if you are removing yourself from an unpleasant situation.
-Body language is the first line of defense when faced with a new person or situation. Head up and eyes clearly meeting another’s the best start to any social interaction. Show-up for your life and others will show their appreciation. No slouching and keep unnecessary body movements in hand.
-Get plenty of rest beforehand. Sleep is an important foundation for getting into the right headspace. Never go hungry to any event that might be emotionally exhausting or makes you feel anxious.
--Maintain a positive perspective and develop a serendipitous mindset. Things might not always go our way, but there will always be something surprising that will bring us joy.
FORGET YOUR FEARS
Too often our fears are only as deep as our egos and misinterpretations. The future that we imagine in the present is always the opposite of what will happen. Adapt a “ready for anything” mindset and find your sense of purpose and adventure.
Ego is the enemy of our success and happiness in life. Be mindful of its power and careful in your intention. When we understand the damage that our pride has on our spirit we can rise and increase our vibration.
As we go about another set of holidays let’s remember the true spirit of the season. The beauty of the human connection is at its fullest when we live our lives with open hearts and good intentions. Our words have spirit, and all actions have consequences. The holidays are a time to be together but also a time to live with a sense of atonement and reflection. Be grateful for what makes each of us unique and special but never forget the lives of those we love and cherish. Make this holiday the best ever and live in with your best intention. Gratitude is always the way to thrive in every situation.