The New Year is upon us, sharing its uninhibited promise of joy and evolution from bad habits to good. As we close out the previous year and begin the next, I find myself looking back on the holidays of 2014 for lessons in how to bring more joy to each day in 2015.
This year the holidays started around December 20th for our little family, providing roughly two weeks of relaxation and time with extended family and friends. For me, the holidays were unique this year, given that I just completed Dr. Amy Johnson’s life coaching program and was reading many of the supporting materials during the break.
With the lessons I learned from Dr. Amy, I looked at all my experiences differently and truly enjoyed this restful vacation more than I have in years. The interesting thing is that nearly all the circumstances were the same as they were the last several years, yet my involvement was different.
Why exactly was this trip home for the holidays so different…
First, whenever I was able to share time with someone I conscientiously focused on the conversation and not my own thoughts and concerns. One of the important learnings I took away from the coaching program was how critical it is to realize that any extraneous thoughts we have on our mind detract from our closeness to others. If you are not genuinely present with someone as you are communicating, true intimacy in the relationship will not evolve. People can feel the energy and attention you bring to the conversation, even if they have no idea what you are thinking. If you are all wrapped up in your own problems or in only sharing what is going on in your life and not asking about their life, the relationship can only become so deep. I find deep relationships immensely inspiring, so practicing this learning will be a focus in 2015.
Second, I was more aware of my mood and how it impacted others. Even though the holidays offered plenty of relaxation time and few deadlines, I didn’t feel amazing the entire time. I stayed up too late and drank a little too much some nights, resulting in feeling a little unrested and crabby. Instead of bringing negativity to the party, I remained just a little more quiet, allowing myself to not lead all conversations and just enjoy dinner or an activity. I didn’t plan social engagements every day to give myself down time and I let myself Pinterest, when I wanted to retreat, but also be around family. I waited until I was in a joyful mood to engage with others more fully.
Third, in all my interactions I felt the joint humanity in the good and bad situations in the lives of my friends and family. I looked for the commonalities that joined us and refrained from judging situations as terminally negative or positive. Things just are as they are and we are all trying to get to a better place, while working through limiting thought patterns that don’t always help us get there quickly. Although the holidays can sometimes invite comparison of our respective life journeys, making some feel like winners and others losers, it’s all in our heads. We all face headwinds and tailwinds, no matter how sparkly our facebook feeds are.
Lastly, I felt light and unencumbered; open to whatever the day had to present. I didn’t really have any plans for the holidays, just people I wanted to see. Moreover, I was open to whatever that interaction looked like and let myself go with the flow, unattached to whether or not the interaction happened as I preferred. I realized that there is no one way to enjoy an interaction. I enjoy traditions, but I’m also entirely open to breaking them.
Opening up to whatever presents itself and not judging the experience, is a lovely way to live. In 2015 I encourage you to let go of judgment of yourself, others and the circumstances that present themselves. You have the power to interpret them as either a helpful addition to your journey or another obstacle. Cheers to 2015!