Adopting a “Vacational Attitude”
– Making Your Holidays Last Well into the New Year
This can be your first year to lengthen the holiday season to the point that it never really needs to end. Just imagine this for a moment: spending quality time with loved ones, consuming all sorts of treats that you crave, feeling warm and rosy nearly every day, and focusing on giving, not to mention plenty of receiving, every single day, even though there is no “real excuse” for living so well. It sounds fairly blissful to me, though you may be thinking, “But … but … how exhausting!” or “How decadent, how much weight would I gain?” or “I could never do that with my kind of schedule.” Well, it can work despite all of those things, if you just give it a chance.
Where I come from in New England, we usually rely on the weather to give us cues to move on to the next season, from balmy sandal-wearing nights, to crisp sweater-sporting walks along crunchy-leaf strewn roads, to the indoor festivities that involve candles and plenty of baking and gift wrapping. But like many of you, where I live now, in pleasantly, perennially sunny Los Angeles, we don’t have the luxury of such seasonal nudges. We must rely on calendars and the decorations in our local Target or Walmart to remind us what is just around the corner, despite our weekend hikes and farmer’s markets. We in temperate climates must make a significant effort to fully celebrate certain holidays and seasons and to not forget they’re the norm for everyone else we Skype with.
So I realized, there might be a marvelous blending of the two. Many of my clients come to me because they find themselves burning the candle at both ends, suffering from exhaustion and, more often, a significant lack of perspective. They don’t see the holidays approaching until they’re just upon them, and then what happens? Pressure! “How did it come so fast? Now I have to buy gifts and plan travel, not to mention a party for …” I expect you may share some deep empathy for their best intentions. So with these clients, we often discuss adopting a “Vacational Attitude.” Yes, this is my own trademarked term for keeping and incorporating the best qualities of our holiday experiences into our daily lives.
[Note: I am using the linguistic variation of the term “holiday” here to mean “vacation.” Most of our non-North American friends use it this way, and for them the word doesn’t carry the emotional baggage that it so often does for North Americans during the traditional Thanksgiving through New Year “holiday season.” We will not discuss any type of “holiday depression” here, as that is best suited for a therapy-centric atmosphere.]
In as simple terms as possible, let’s examine what comprises a vacation-oriented attitude to life. How do you feel when you’re on vacation? What qualities about the vacation life and yourself spark to life when you are out of your ordinary, overly-grounded “regular” life? For a majority of people, there is a greater sense of powerful, positive emotions and states of freedom such as joy, lightness, giddiness, warmth, goodwill, contentment, even just plain old fun.
What do you seek most when planning a vacation? Your answer will vitally tell you what you either need most in that period, or what you crave most for your personality. Being in desperate need of a beach holiday where you do nothing but loll in the water, read romance novels and sip margaritas may indicate a desperate respite from your overly-organized and laden schedule. This is in sharp contrast to the urban culture holiday that feeds one’s cultural and intellectual goals, or even the daredevil adventure holiday of the bungee-jumper or Kilimanjaro-climber that satisfies one’s need for challenges, surprise and accomplishment. I guarantee you that, ultimately, all vacations, no matter the type, lead to those same characteristics: freedom, joy and fun.
So let’s extend this to our imminent “holiday season.” What do you treasure or relish most about the best of this season? Is it the freedom from your regular heavy routine and schedule? Is it the warmth and contentment of catching up with old or rarely seen friends? Is it the opportunity to cut loose, have a few more drinks, let your hair down or loosen that tie and really have … some giddy fun? Are you starting to see a pattern here?
And yet so many of us burn out after this holiday season is complete. We overdo it. We overindulge. We cram events and drinks and dinners into such a tight timeframe that all our daily needs and requirements fall to the wayside, only to seek revenge after the New Year. The reason, most people tell me, is because they do not give themselves these fulfilling pleasures or, more sadly, “luxuries” of joy and satisfaction in their lives throughout the rest of the year.
This is how we end the cycle of binging and purging on fun, happy-making activities: Actively incorporate soul-satisfying activities into your life with extreme regularity. Schedule them, even when there is something more “pressing” to distract you. I guarantee that whatever requires your attention will still be there if it’s vital, except that you will actually be able to tackle, handle or manage it when you’re happier and less stressed, for a change. It really can be this easy.
Is the question even deeper than this? Perhaps it comes down to that regular, niggling problem that is solely in our imaginations: worthiness. Many of my clients just don’t give themselves permission to enjoy themselves because they’ve set up an unwinnable game of reward-earning for their achievements for which they perpetually feel unworthy to win. We’ll discuss this in our 2014 columns.
But for now, accept this: You are worthy of having fun, and regularly. You have permission to enjoy your life, your friends, your family, and regularly. Finally, you have the right to carry the joys of the holidays into your daily, regular life, even when the holidays end.
Here’s my challenge to you: Adopt a “Vacational Attitude” at least until Valentine’s Day or Easter, and let me know in the comments how it goes. Heck, it might just last the whole year.
Your Most Precious Gift This Holiday Season
The holidays can be such a delicious time of year, especially when we have happy memories to embrace. Our happy memories can be the springboard to create even more joy during the current holiday season, continuing the pattern of all things loving, cheery and bright.
For some of us, though, the holiday blues can be an all too familiar experience. Whether it is a result of our personal expectations being too high, missing a loved one, spending time with family members we’re not too keen about, or something else, the mere thought of the holidays can make us shudder
Whether or not you experience some things bright and others blue, the mandate for the season invites us to consider our relationships in the spirit of reconciliation where there may have been separation and misunderstanding.
What a wonderful opportunity, indeed. When considering relationship reconciliation, it may entail some type of repair, which is defined as: To restore to sound condition after damage or injury. I love the idea of restoring relationships to sound, solid and strong condition. For this holiday season I invite you to give yourself the most precious gift of all, which can be a most effective bridge in repairing other relationships: repair your relationship with yourself first.
In your willingness to repair your relationship with yourself first, please consider that you are reuniting with your optimism, your sense of fun, and your secret dreams. To reunite, in this case, is to re-pair with your innate joy and zest for life. And when did you have it most? When was it easiest to remember? When you were a child.
Repair yourself by re-pairing with your child self. Give your precious little one everything they missed while growing up. If during the holidays you didn’t get what you wanted, whatever it may have been, use your imagination and see your little one having it … love, acceptance, toys, fun, kisses, praise, ALL OF IT!
See your little one happy and energized. Imagine. BIG. Breathe in, very deeply, and acknowledge that you have everything you have always wanted. YOU are your little one’s parent now, and it is up to you to cuddle, honor and appreciate them, taking especially good care of them at all times.
In our consensus reality, we are acknowledging the continuing existence of and, more and more, the importance of, the well-being of our child self. We are discovering that, by incorporating esoteric and unconventional approaches to emotional healing, we can experience amazing results.
Take time for yourself. When you use your imagination to love your younger self, thus re-writing your own history by replacing disappointment with fulfillment, it changes your energetic frequency right now. The more your younger self is happy and content now, you will enjoy more satisfaction in your reality right now.
Be willing to open your heart and imagination to see things differently. Here is the kicker: when you give yourself now what you needed back then, it is as if it is happening right now. Your subconscious mind doesn’t know the difference when it comes to time; it just knows the sensations of what you are feeling now, whatever that may be. With that awareness, your ability to heal is absolutely limitless.
The winter season is also often associated with going underground. It can be the perfect time to reflect in order to prepare for the promise of budding again come springtime. With your shift in mindset, you can allow this holiday season to be the foundation upon which all of your future seasons, holiday or otherwise, are built. So, make it good. Make it special. Make it wonderful. Practice, practice, practice. Anchor in the good feelings and watch your life transform!
Remembering the Real Reasons for the Season
I have a love/hate relationship with the holidays.
I love the multicolored twinkling lights that adorn homes and offices. I adore the aroma of warm cookies and sweet treats baking. I get teary-eyed at the sounds of carolers as I am taken back to pleasant childhood memories of doing the same with my friends. I cherish the tinkling of the Salvation Army bell that reminds us of those less fortunate.
I like the confused look on my little dog’s face when I snap a photo of her in reindeer antlers. I love spending a week writing holiday cards, reinforcing my connection to treasured people in my life. I appreciate the Jewish tradition of lighting the Hanukkah Menorah for the Festival of Lights and the heart-based motivation behind the Christmas tradition of God-consciousness being birthed in the form of the man Jesus.
Yes, I love the reverence for spiritual enlightenment, festivities, fun, food and gatherings for the holidays. And I hate the consumerism that is so pervasive this time of year.
It used to be well past Thanksgiving before holiday ads started to appear. Now I am still roaming around in my Halloween vampire costume when the relentless assault begins. The twinkling lights, tinkling bells, and carolers are a mere whisper among the roar of ads for the countless “things” we should wrap up for our loved ones to show that we care.
When did what we buy become more important than standing by? When did presents become more important than presence? When did “things” become the most important things?
I had to honestly ask myself these questions because there was a time when I had forgotten the reasons for the season and had almost drowned in debt. For too many years, I gave too many presents that were too big for my budget.
From an early age, I felt as if I was molded into being a holiday purchasing machine. I was constantly bombarded by product ads promising to make me and other people happy. I spent much of my life surrounding myself and others with things. So, I got used to whipping out the credit card, without caring how I was going to pay when the bill arrived. Nor did I stop to question if giving and receiving “things” was actually the way to joy or peace. Then one holiday season I had a life-changing “aha” while reading Charles Dickens’s classic novel A Christmas Carol.
When I first encountered Ebenezer Scrooge, I thought he was a despicable individual. He was rich and stingy, angry and miserable, seemingly without heart. He cared nothing for anyone except himself. Despising the poor and hungry, he was a cruel boss who forced poor Bob Cratchit, his ever-loyal employee, to work long hours in horrible conditions, paying him almost nothing.
Scrooge was a dastardly man, yet by the end of the tale he had become my hero. His complete transformation, from mean and miserly to kind and generous, left a deep and lasting impression on me.
The old Scrooge showed me that money, things, and power over others are not the source of joy and satisfaction. The enlightened Scrooge taught me that it is the heart connection we make with our fellow human beings and all life that creates joy and contentment in our lives. Scrooge helped me realize that to “keep up with the Joneses” or blindly follow the “gift giving” standard set for me by a global sales force was a shallow and irresponsible endeavor, one that did not align with the real reasons for the season.
Yes, the holidays are a time when we give and receive. And it pays to remember that the most precious gifts are those that cannot be purchased but come from our heart.
This holiday season let’s make the conscious decision to make presence more important than presents. Let’s place greater value on standing by, rather than what we buy, those we love. Let’s make our relationships the most important thing.
Let’s refuse to equate consumerism with love. Let’s remember that the true motivation behind the holidays is to extend kindness, patience, peace and generosity to friends, family and our fellow human beings. Let’s remember those whose need is greater than our own. These are the real reasons for the season.