Holiday Happiness (Part 1)

To be read ideally between late-October and mid-November

The start of the “holiday season” is upon us. It seems it starts earlier and earlier all the time. And for many people, the holidays can be very stressful.

There are many expectations and obligations to meet, parties to attend, and gifts to buy (which means financial pressure for many people). Then there’s all the eating and drinking, and for some, the holidays means traveling some as well.


This "holiday happiness" series is intended to make this time of year a bit less stressed, getting us all through it easier and happier.

The objective of this first installment of the series is to look at the big picture and put things in proper perspective. That’s an essential component of the process since the details of the season can be “overwhelming” - if overwhelm is part of your vocabulary (see transformational vocabulary for a great way to reduce stress and anxiety during the holidays - and anytime of the year).

Next, it’s important to assess our individual needs, desires, and influences as related to creating the best holiday season possible. To do that, we’ll start with two basic questions everyone should answer at this time of year:

  1. What makes the holidays stressful, difficult, and/or “unhappy”?
  2. What do I – or could I – love about the holidays?
If you answer these two questions honestly for yourself, you will have a great start to making this holiday season very happy and joyous. That’s because, with the answers to these two questions, we can better understand the specific issues which represent pain and pleasure for us during the holiday season and then more easily create a plan to address them (which will be partly the subject of the next week of this series).

So, spend a few minutes right now answering those two questions. Take whatever time you need. Be specific. Then come back and finish this article with the answers in hand.

OK, you’ve answered the questions, right? If not, don’t go on until you do.

The most common answers I’ve gotten to those two questions are:
Question #1
(What makes the holidays stressful, difficult, and/or “unhappy”?):

  • Too many expectations and obligations
  • It’s gotten too commercial
  • The true meaning has been lost
  • It's too expensive
  • There are too many people to please
  • The shopping malls and stores get too crazy
  • There are too many parties to attend
  • I eat too much
  • I gain weight
  • I drink too much
  • I’m alone
  • I work during the holidays
  • My[family member, friend, spouse] is gone and I miss them even more

Question #2
(What do I – or could I – love about the holidays?):
  • The opportunity to connect with friends and family
  • The chance to brighten people’s life by giving


  • Remembering the meaning of the season
  • Connection with family and friends
  • Great memories from childhood
  • The food (turkey and stuffing, pies, etc.)
  • The shopping
  • The parties
  • Getting some great gifts
  • Going to church, the synagogue, etc.
  • Christmas carols
  • Time off from work
  • The weather at this time of year
  • The chance to reflect on what life is all about
  • The holiday lights

Did you come up with some others?

Was your “negative” list (the answers to the first question) longer than the “positive” list (the answers to the second question)? Or was the positive list longer?

Whichever it is, over the next week it’s important to think about these answers – and use them to create a “Holiday Happiness Plan” for yourself (see below) which expands the positives and minimizes the negatives.

For now, just notice some of the feelings and emotions you experience as we get closer to the end of the year. We’ll talk about “rules” next week, for example, which has a huge effect on our ability to be happy at anytime of the year – and especially during the holidays.

When you notice how you feel in response to the various issues you wrote down as answers to those two questions, it may even make you realize how your negative emotional responses to the crowds, the parties, and all the other “frustrations” associated with the holidays may be overblown. If you're guilty of this, again, make sure to use transformational vocabulary as one of your Holiday Happiness tools.

Also, one of the common issues for just about everyone during the holidays is getting everything done and dealing with all the expectations.

So, over the next 24 hours, start creating your “Holiday Happiness Plan”. I’ve designed a “Holiday Happiness Planner” – a template, if you will – to help you with that plan and guide you through the next few weeks more smoothly.

We’ll focus on this plan in subsequent parts of this series throughout December, and will start implementing the details addressed in your plan to get a bit more specific about what to do to ease the stress of the holidays – emotionally, financially, and healthfully.

Click here to open up a copy of my “Holiday Happiness Planner” template to get started with the process. It’s pretty much self-explanatory to get started, so start building the plan using the template – and begin implementing any of the issues which arise within the next week (like shopping, party, eating, and exercise plans). In Part 2 we’ll begin to address some of specific issues associated with your plan.

So, I hope you had an awesome start to the holiday season with a great Thanksgiving, if you live in the U.S. It’s surely a wonderful holiday!

Why?

Partly because it truly represents a huge component of happiness.

Yes, to BeHappy! we MUST be thankful (in other words, grateful and appreciative) for all we really have in our lives. We must "give thanks" for all the things we sometimes take for granted ... like food, shelter, our friends and families, and so much more.

Sometime, however, it’s hard to feel the gratitude when there’s significant pain in our lives.

So to help us all buffer any pain we may be experiencing right now, I’d like to have you read an article written by my friend, and regular “scientific” contributor to this site, Lisa Jacobson. Lisa has a Masters degree in Positive Psychology and has written an article – at my request – designed specifically to help all of us make it through the holidays with gratitude and joy rather than frustration and anxiety.

Click Here to read the article by Lisa called A Healthy Dose of Kindness and Gratitude Buffers Holiday Blues.


The Holiday Happiness Series...


Check out my "Holiday Happiness Series", which starts in late October every year and goes through the New Year.  It will help ease the stress of the holiday season and create the most joyful, fulfilling, healthy holiday ever. 

Click Here to continue with Part 2 of the Series.


Make sure to download the “Holiday Happiness Planner” and start using it to design the next few weeks for yourself. 

BeHappy! (and Be Grateful) my friends

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