If you’re not grooving on your holiday traditions, this is the perfect year to do a little decluttering. Even if you love every tradition and hate that you’ll be missing out on things, this holiday season has a lot you can leverage. Whether these two ideas sound intriguing or baffling, they are truths of this particular season. (Interested but not keen on reading? Then pop over here and have a listen to the podcast version.)
Another truth is that this year has been a challenge. Covid has defined how we live. And now that we’re fully into holiday season, those constraints are being felt even more acutely. There’s little doubt that many traditions are being upended as I write and many expectations will go unmet.
If you feel like you are going to be missing out on what you love, or will have to give up what brings meaning to season, then it’s going to be easy to get swept up in a frenzy of negative thinking. The same is true if you feel obligated to keep doing something you loathe just because it’s expected. Negativity begets negativity, which means we risk becoming prey for emotional clutter. And once emotional clutter sets up shop, it’s a bit of a task to eradicate it (kind of like of like herding cats, exhausting and frustrating).
I am not here to minimize what’s happening, things are serious. However, at times like this, I think it’s critical we don’t give up our personal power and allow ourselves to be fully devoured by the situation.
As trite as it might sound, we need to remember that in every crisis, there is opportunity. And it’s up to us to seek it out and leverage it.
From my perspective, this holiday season has endless opportunities to redefine what the holidays are about and clear away the clutter that shrouds the meaningful aspects. I’m not going to tell you how to bring more meaning to the season; only you know what matters to you.
But I can tell you that now is the perfect opportunity to let go of anything that doesn’t serve you well.
If your holidays are already ideal, you can stop reading and go celebrate (go you!). But, and this is a big but, most people are tethered to tradition like an anchor on a boat. They keep doing what they’ve always done because it’s expected, not necessarily because it brings them joy. Unfortunately, most people are loathe to cut the anchor line and free themselves of those burdensome commitments.
In normal times, that’s understandable. The reasons are varied, but avoiding conflict is a biggie, as is the worry that they will disappoint family or friends. So people persist in doing what’s always been done for the sake of tradition and for fear of rocking the boat.
This year we’re in uncharted territory. We don’t have to worry about creating conflict, nor do we have to worry about disappointing others. Covid has already done that, and thrown us all off course. In other words, if you have ever wanted to free yourself of expectations, this is a golden opportunity to grasp. It’s an opportunity to break the chain and try something new without blowback. It’s a silver lining in an otherwise dark period.
I know not everyone yearns for dramatic change, but everyday people tell me how they wish they could stare down expectations and say:
Enough of that, I want this instead.
If you’re in that camp, then step up up and go for it. You have permission to do what you want. Yes, you in the back too. This is permission for every single one of you.
If you’re on the fence, know this: You don’t have to jettison your traditions, you can always reclaim them next year if you choose, so there’s nothing to fear, nothing to risk by doing what you want, instead of what’s expected.
If you’re in a different camp, that is if you are feeling super resentful that Covid is cramping your holiday style, and I get it, this year is off the charts with disappointment, then might I suggest you think about things from a different perspective, and that is…..
Stop thinking about what it is you want to do, and think of what you want to feel.
What can you do to get closer to that feeling? Trust me, there are still opportunities galore to nourish your soul. It may require some creativity, but you can still enjoy this season despite the constraints.
Remember, it’s not the activity per se that ultimately give us satisfaction, it’s the feeling we get from that activity. For example, a holiday party make make you feel connected to friends and family. It may make you feel loved, it may make you feel energized and lifted in spirit. But parties don’t have the lock on providing those feelings. You can experience those same feelings when you engage in other activities. Seek out alternatives and you will find them.
You can even make your own opportunities. Since many of us can’t do what we’ve always done, the fear of regret won’t get in the way. It’s not like you’ll have to give up something to try something because the thing you’ve always loved isn’t even an option this year, right?
So why not test drive something different? It won’t necessarily be better, but it will be an adventure. An adventure that will, at the very least, take your mind off the fact that this year is something out of the ordinary. Who knows, you might love the new experience so much that you’ll want to repeat it. You may even love it so much you’ll wonder why you didn’t do it sooner.
If you’re wondering about me, not that you should be, but my holiday season has been turned upside down. It’s 180 degrees off of usual. I’m at home, not with extended family, I had to cancel flight tickets and deliver disappointing news that caused some real emotional responses.
We can’t even hang out with friends because we’re under orders not to mix with anyone outside our immediate household. There are no concerts, no cocktail meet ups, no gatherings of any type. It’s a very, very different holiday season. So I’m with you all in having to adjust my perspective and shift my focus.
What I really want to say is let’s seize the opportunity to outsmart Covid, both in this moment and in the long run. By shifting our focus from wishing for what was, to getting excited about leveraging what is, we can salvage this season, and dare I say make it one to remember.
It could be a collective growth moment. And I can’t think of a better way to model resilience for communities, families and especially our children, than to take what we’ve been given and make the best of it. Resilience is the skill that allows us to find the light in to the dark, or in other words satisfaction despite circumstances.
Making the best out of what we have is super power we all have access to, and it is the key to finding joy no matter what serves us up.