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Friday, December 22, 2017

Holidays

Written by  Janan Broadbent, Ph.D.

Savor vs. Dread

Approaching this time of the year, I hear a lot of moans and groans, and for sure, there can be a lot to complain about. The rush to make sure you get the right gifts; the agony of figuring out where you are going, by what means, and how much that will cost; that knot inside when you think of being with some family and friends who typically get into arguments; that uncle or aunt who gets drunk and brings up all kinds of past grievances and will not let go…. Yeah, I hear you. Those do happen. Not to mention anything weather-related.

But then, there are also those moments of joy when you see a relative, a friend, or even a partner you haven’t seen in eons and much laughter ensues. Or watching the slow descent of snowflakes. The glitter of lights and decorations that make everyplace festive. Who wouldn’t mention Baltimore’s 34th Street extravaganza? That has made it into USA Todays “Neighborhoods with the most outrageous Christmas lights in every state”! Yay!

So it comes down to just how much in control we feel about our moods, the external factors that affect them, and what we can or will do about focusing on the negative as opposed to seeking the positive.

It‘s also helpful if you remind yourself that, in the words of Persian Sufi poets, “This too shall pass.” Knowing that anything is time-limited makes it easier to get through the event. I remember a dentist who used to remark what percentage he was done with as he was drilling. It sure helped when you heard he was 50% done! It adds to a sense of control, whether it is actual or in our minds.

Getting away from feeling like a victim of circumstances, reminding yourself of all the things you can be grateful of, and always trying to balance the negativity with positive thoughts bring comfort and add to a feeling of stability and confidence. I can well imagine that there may be people skeptical of this approach to life. But do give it a try and don’t give up quickly. You may be surprised that some of this what some call psychology mumbo-jumbo works! The mind is a great learner, but it is also capable of unlearning and substituting new lessons, especially when said learnings enhance our happiness.

In the spirit of the times, I wish everyone a happy and healthy holiday season!

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