The holidays are supposed to be a time of peace, love and goodwill—right?  

Why then do many of us feel additional stress, frustration, and in some cases—anger?

We’re engaged in the crazy!

  • The temptation to overindulge.
  • Year end pressure to do more and be in more places.
  • Crowds, long lines, traffic, unrealistic expectations, and yes, the fear of disappointing someone.

“Thanks Riv, this really puts me in a festive mood!

Actually, you should thank me…I am trying to help you build your awareness muscle.

Recently, I had a bad customer service experience at one retailer that frustrated me. Conversely, this past Sunday I had a great experience at a different one that ignited my holiday spirit. When I reflected on those experiences, I was reminded of a simple truth: We are blessed with the power of choice. 

We have the power to choose what receives our energy—and what we allow to hijack it. 

Within every moment exists the opportunity to reset—change a mood, shift a perspective, or transform what feels like a bad experience into a better one. You may think this is easier said than done, but it’s not. In fact, that thinking is part of the problem.

Try this: Redirect the same muscles you use to recognize all of the bad shit and use it to unlock your holiday spirit. Look around—there is something special in everyone and everything. Do you see it?

During the holidays, the universe presents us with more opportunities to practice building our awareness muscle.

Leaders make choices, not excuses.

Your first choice? Stop the crazy!

Not all priorities are created equal. If a longtime tradition has become more of a chore than a celebration, cross it off your list or replace it with a new tradition.

Second choice? Do more of what makes you happy! 

Again, this time of year provides a ton of opportunity to practice. Keep it simple. Unfortunately, simplicity is sometimes foreign to adults.

Here are a few simple ways to unlock your holiday spirit:

  • Hold the door open for a stranger. Look them in the eye, smile, and wish them a Happy Holiday. Notice their reaction, and yours.
  • Play music while hanging outside lights. My daughter started this tradition and it completely changed the entire experience for me.
  • Have a glass of wine in front of your holiday decorations. Note the memories that come to mind when you spot a special item from years past. I am doing this right now 😉 😉
  • Read your favorite holiday story or poem to a child. Observe their innocent excitement. My family still reads “T’was the Night Before Christmas” together every year.
  • Drop spare change in the Salvation Army collection bucket. You can afford it.
  • Sponsor a family in need instead of a group gift exchange. It inspires a sense of giving.
  • Take a shopping break and treat yourself to a coffee or snack. Notice how good a timeout feels.
  • Give a parking spot to someone else. It’s ok; there is another one with your name on it.
  • Watch your favorite holiday movie from your childhood. (“How the Grinch Stole Christmas” is one of my favorites.)

Leaders who matter are aware that everyone else does too.

This week is no different than others. Stop the crazy and enjoy the moment!