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A Timeless Guide to Finding Peace and Joy During the Holidays

Peace & Joy
Image by vonSchnauzer (license).

.“May you have warmth in your igloo, oil in your lamp, and peace in your heart!”
Eskimo proverb

The holidays are upon us.

A time of needed relaxation and more time with the people closest to us.

A time of stress and worries. A time of not all the joy you may have hoped for or been promised by upbeat advertising and movies.

It can be a time of mixed feelings.

So in this guide I would like to share a handful of powerful and timeless tips that can help you to make these holidays a more joyful and peaceful time.

Slow down.

“For fast-acting relief, try slowing down.”
Lily Tomlin

First, slow down. Even if it may feel silly and if you have to force it a bit. Slow down your body, move and walk slowly.

Breathe slower and more deeply with your belly (and focus on doing just that for two minutes and see what happens).

Slow down your eating (this will not only help you to relax, it will also help you to not eat too much during the holidays since it takes about 20 minutes for your brain to register that you are full.)

Slow it all down and pay attention to what you are doing. Be here now and focus on doing just one thing at a time. By slowing down, by being here now, by not having your focus split between many things you, your body and your mind start to relax.

Appreciate the little things instead of focusing on perfection.

“Nobody can be uncheered with a balloon.”
Winnie the Pooh

Daily happiness is to a large part about appreciating the small things. If you just allow yourself to be happy when accomplishing a big goal or when everything lines up just perfectly for moment then you are making life harder than it needs to be.

Instead, focus on appreciating things that you may take for granted.

Take two minutes and find things in your life you can appreciate now. If you want a few suggestions, here are a few of the things that I like to appreciate around the holidays:

  • All the tasty food.
  • My health.
  • My family and friends.
  • This blog and the opportunity to explore and write about what I want.
  • You, the reader.
  • Myself and the fine things about me.

The funny thing is that if you just start appreciating something you can very quickly start jumping around with your attention and appreciate just about anything around you.

You may start with the food you are eating right now. Then move your attention to the phone and appreciate that you can contact anyone and be contacted by anyone you would like. You might then move your attention outside, through the window and see the wonderful wintery sunshine and then the kids having fun in the snow. And so on.

Give a bit of joy to someone else.

“Since you get more joy out of giving joy to others, you should put a good deal of thought into the happiness that you are able to give.”
Eleanor Roosevelt

This may sound like an empty cliché but it surely works. One of the best ways to become happier is simply to make others happier.

When you make someone else happy you can sense, see, feel and hear it. And that happy feeling flows back to you. And then, if you like, you can appreciate what you did by thinking something like: Wow, I really made him/her happy!

And since the Law of Reciprocity is strong there is another upside. People will feel like giving back to you. Or like paying it forward to someone else. And so the two (or more) of you keep building an upward spiral of for example positivity, of helping out, of cheering up and of lending a listening ear and support.

Focus on what is most valuable.

“You can never get enough of what you don’t need to make you happy.”
Eric Hoffer

“Joy is not in things; it is in us.”
Benjamin Franklin

Instead of focusing on a lot of things focus on what is most important and valuable to you.

If you still have Christmas gifts to buy then instead of giving away a lot of expensive stuff it may be better to give one thing that the person you are giving it to will truly appreciate.

Or maybe you could skip giving a physical thing altogether. And instead give away an experience that will become a special day and cherished memory for him or her or for the two of you.

However you choose to go about things over the holidays make it your choices as best you can and not a bunch of shoulds that mostly make you feel deflated.

Take a break.

“Take rest; a field that has rested gives a bountiful crop.”

Working nonstop can sour your mood and stress anyone out. Slow down but also remember to take breaks. Take 20 minutes or half an hour to just rest.

Take a walk in the crisp and cold winter landscape. Escape via music, a book you got for Christmas or by watching classic holiday movies/TV.

Do something that snaps you out of the working, shopping and preparing mindset, even if it is just for while. That short change in scenery and change of mental headspace may be all you need to feel revitalized again.

Just accept how you feel right now.

“We cannot change anything until we accept it. Condemnation does not liberate, it oppresses.”
Carl Jung

Maybe you try some of the tips above. And they still cannot help you to shake that negativity, worries or stress you are carrying around. I would then suggest that you just accept that the feeling is there. Tell yourself: this is how I feel right now and I accept it.

This sounds counterintuitive and like you are giving up. However by accepting how you feel instead of resisting it you reduce the emotional energy that you are feeding into this conflict or problem. It then tends to lose speed like a car that runs out of fuel.

Sometimes the problem or conflict will then become so weak that it just moves out of your mind. At other times it may need you to take some action.

And by accepting what is you have now freed up energy and your attention so that your mind can become more open and constructive once again. And you can take focused action towards a solution.

If you found this article helpful, then please share it with someone else by using the buttons below. Thank you! =)

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  • Agatha Tefora December 22, 2011, 10:44 am

    Rest is essential in our life and to have peace and joy and uncluttered mind is important.

    • Henrik Edberg December 26, 2011, 1:52 pm

      Yes, those are two of the most important factors so it is vital to take the time to, for instance, just relax to feel good.

  • RL2011 December 22, 2011, 5:39 pm

    I’ve been reading your blog for years and I’ve gotten so much inspiration from it. I wish you lots of happiness and joy. I recently joined Twitter and I was so excited to find you there too so I won’t miss a beat. Have a wonderful New Year!

    • Henrik Edberg December 26, 2011, 1:52 pm

      Thank you very much, I’m glad to hear that you have been reading the blog for so long. You have a wonderful New Year too! :)

  • Daphne Gray-Grant December 22, 2011, 7:21 pm

    My heartiest recommendation for finding peace and joy over the holidays is to use it as a time to READ! I will often read a book a day when I have time off and I find it the best possible present I can give myself. If you want some suggestions for good books to read, look here: http://bit.ly/sMQ5EX

    • Henrik Edberg December 26, 2011, 1:54 pm

      Great tip, I read quite a bit over the holidays too. It’s relaxing and with the right book I can discover new ways of looking at things. Thanks for the list!

  • David Sneen December 23, 2011, 8:53 am

    It is the ultimate irony that we get more when we give than when we receive. Well said

  • Petr Mihulka December 23, 2011, 10:41 am

    Great valuable tips! I’ll put effort to practice during my holiday…

    • Henrik Edberg December 26, 2011, 1:55 pm

      Thank you, I hope you’ll find that the tips are helping you out over the holidays.

  • vishal December 23, 2011, 4:51 pm

    Good one …. nice tips to grab and bring in daily habbits.

  • Beth December 23, 2011, 9:37 pm

    Thank you for the reminders. The holidays can definitely be a time of angst for many people. It has been a hard time for me for several years {I lost my Mom before the holidays several years ago}. This year I am finally slowing down, enjoying the small things, and being grateful for what I HAVE, and not what I don’t have. There is so much to be grateful for! I am now assuming the role of Mom myself, and making the holidays as fun and joyful for my son, just as my Mother did for me every year! =)

    • Henrik Edberg December 26, 2011, 1:56 pm

      Thank you for sharing, I’m glad to hear that the holidays are becoming a more positive time for you. :)

  • Logan from Lifepointr December 24, 2011, 7:42 am

    Hey, I really appreciated this article! It re centered me on how I should view the holidays.

  • Alice Hive December 27, 2011, 9:09 pm

    “Slow down your eating”

    Funnily enough, my eating was slowed down by being sick during December: As I couldn’t taste the flavors of the food anymore (except the basic flavors), I chewed automatically more slowly in order to enjoy at least the texture of the food and the sensations in my mouth. This was indeed quite enjoyable!

    And yes, this was not only relaxing but also slowed down my hunger.

  • T December 30, 2011, 9:28 am

    Everyone always says number 3, but as a person who was raised by people who had an unending list of demands and service requests- this leaves me with no joy…sometimes I even feel weighted down. Bringing aid to someone else is just a byproduct of my trained behaviors, never makes me happier. But, the others do the trick just right.