The Power of Joy
Do you believe in magic?
“The most wonderful time of the year, my A@$,” I’ve grumbled to myself a couple times over the past few weeks. Once, when I was walking the dogs on a 22-degree morning and one of them pooped, so I had to take off my mittens to try to get the poop bag open, and as I leaned over, my mitten fell right in the mess! Second time, when I was driving to Long Island in merciless traffic, and the overhead sign said, “Traffic congestion through Thursday.” It was Monday. Was NOT a jolly time.
Is it the most wonderful time of the year? It always feels like it when I hang the ornaments that say, “Baby’s First Christmas” or when the Christmas tree turns on at 4:30pm every day with a burst of light. and joy, and tradition. But it seems that in between the garland, the sparkling decorations, and the wrapping paper, the ghosts of Christmas past and expectations, entangle themselves into what we think and how we feel, based on who and what came before. And it can be difficult not to focus on what isn’t and who isn’t here.
I thought of this the other night as my daughter, who is a speech pathologist, while visiting ended up triaging my dad over the phone as he struggled with some swallowing issues due to his advanced Parkinson’s disease. She, the subject of the “Baby’s First Christmas” ornament, spoke to him as a clinician would a patient, with so much knowledge and compassion, it literally took my breath away.
I’m thinking the most wonderful time of the year might just be anytime there is love and fond memories, anytime a granddaughter can comfort a grandfather, or the other way around. I’m thinking the most wonderful time of the year IS right now, but it will be next month as well, and the month after, if we let it. We have the capacity for a wonderful day, a wonderful moment, and a wonderful time, based on what we choose to focus on, and what we choose to let go of.
So that’s my Christmas wish, that your most wonderful time of the year will be every time of the year!
The Power of Why
Don't forget to savor!
The holidays are often referred to as a magical time of year. Yet many of us tend to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the season, and forget to savor the magical moments.
Savoring is defined as “attending, appreciating, and enhancing positive experiences that occur in one’s life.”
Experts say that savoring is more than mindfulness; “it’s a much narrower process that involves intentionally attending to the present experience, specifically focusing on internal or external stimuli exclusively related to positive feelings.”
One important aspect to note about savoring is that the benefits are derived from the way we process the experience rather than from the positive nature of the event. So this means that savoring requires some mental mining. We need to dig for the magic and then store it in a safe place in our minds so it doesn’t get lost or tarnished.
Here are some strategies from positive psychology to help you savor the positive experiences this holiday season:
- Share your positive experiences with others
Sharing your personal positive experiences with other people can amplify positive emotions and create lasting memories.
- Memory building
Choose the elements from your experience that evoke the most pleasure in order to savor that moment to the fullest.
- Sensory-perceptual sharpening
Purposefully focusing your attention on specific senses (sight, sound, taste, etc.) can enable you to explore it in more detail.
Building awareness around your positive emotions while being immersed and engaged in a particular experience can create the sensation of slowing down and the feeling of positive moments being prolonged.
- Temporal awareness
Bringing awareness to the fleeting nature of a positive experience can motivate you to savor the moment and make the most out of it before it ends.
- Counting blessings
Attend to and reflect upon your positive experiences and the reasons you are grateful for them.
- Avoiding kill-joy thinking
Don’t downplay or devaluate your positive experiences by focusing on any imperfections.
I hope these strategies help you to savor the season!
Wishing you and your families a magical holiday season, filled with many positive experiences that you can savor for years to come!