Questions to Sophie: Self induced holiday happiness

Suzanne Kline

I have heard many people talking about the sadness that is amplified during the Holidays. For some, itís missing loved ones, others itís pain in relationships or financial struggles; each of us has our own unique and difficult set of circumstances.

Thereís pressure to purchase the perfect present when you have no idea what that is. Do you buy the same socks, candy, soaps, gift cards or candles as the previous year?

We feel anxiety about cooking, baking, preparing, shopping, decorating, flying, driving, coordinating whose house to go to, dealing with tensions at the dinner table, crowds at the stores, and the potential for inclement weather.

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The Holidays are dynamic with the interplay of coordinating wants and needs of many of our family and friends. Short of taking a private getaway, there are ways to relieve the stress and enjoy the holidays. Here are a few to consider: peace through integrity, caring for others, making intentional decisions to be happy, and living out the meaning of the Holidays.

Integrity is being truthful and undivided within yourself. It is uncompromising harmony between what you think, say, and do. Itís the concept of unity, wholeness of character in which you are honest and fair with everyone Ė including yourself. Your spirit relaxes in peace when integrity is at your core as you go through this season.

Caring. Itís easy to become consumed with emptiness and loneliness from grief or anxiety. Shifting your focus from pain to strength brings relief. We all have intrinsic gifts Ė talents, skills, and knowledge that we can use to care for others Ė giving can be so easy. Choose to engage in a social activity, for example, play a game to share enjoyment. Say kind words to the people you encounter, express gratitude for the little things, and thank someone for being in your life. Pay a compliment to yourself, sing with others, hold a door open, smile. Taking a break from a self-absorbed state and imparting goodness elicits a healthy sense of pride.

Make the decision to be happy. Have you ever observed someone (maybe yourself) yelling when suddenly the phone rings? They pick up the phone and say hello as calm as can be. We can change our actions in an instant with a split second decision. You can do it, and probably have many times. Practice switching from sadness and grief to moments of happiness. Change your thinking, for example: ďIím not so alone, there are people who love me and I can reach out to them. I will talk with someone to get help to feel better during this time. Regardless of how much money I have, itís the loving things that show I care. I carry the fond memories of those I miss in my heart, and Iíll keep them close by emulating their good characteristics. Iíll redeem my pain by reclaiming happiness through uplifting myself and others. Iím making a conscious decision to be happy and líll repeat that as often as I need to.Ē

During this Holiday season, consider the meaning of the Holi-days, and move through them with a spirit of integrity Ė thinking and acting in congruence with their true meaning, caring for yourself and others, and making a decision to intentionally enjoy the season.

Readers: If you have suggestions for the questions, or an opinion on the responses, please email questionstosophie@gmail.com. Your submission may be printed in a following article.

Disclaimer: Responses to questions are not to be construed as receiving, and are not a substitute for, psychological services, or treatment.

Questions to Sophie is a new question and answer column addressing reflections on work, family, friendship and personal issues. Send your questions to questionstosophie@gmail.com or mail them to The Hamburg Area Item office. Please submit by the editorial deadline.

The column is by Suzanne Kline a practicing psychologist born and raised in the Hamburg area.