I have written two books about mindfulness, and sometimes, I have no interest in being mindful. I want to be distracted and entertained rather than enlightened and educated. I want to unplug rather than plug in. This is after years of mediation practice and mindfulness teaching, because sometimes it is just so darn easy to get wrapped up in the mindset of “I have so much to do.”
Becoming mindful is about becoming honest and this means that you need to consider that your busy-ness – at least some of it – is a conscious choice.
Right now your mind is ready to argue with me and I am sure some of the arguments look like this, “But who is going to get the wrapping done?” “Who is going to cook the giant dinner?” “Who is going to keep the holiday spirit alive and well by organizing activities that are spread out through December?”
I don’t doubt that you have a to-do list that could be a mile long. However, it is also worth considering the “to don’t” list. What don’t you have to accomplish or prove this holiday season? What don’t you have to buy? What don’t you have to do this year, even though it has always been tradition?
I am getting into the to don’t list this year. This year I am saying no to the traditional family dinner because I need to have a year where I don’t travel with my toddler. I am taking this dramatic leap because I trust that my family knows that I still love them all fiercely even if I am severing the idea of what we usually do. I will see most of them that month and I will deck the halls because it fills my spirit to do so. I will drink more hot chocolate and attend select holiday parties. I will give gifts that are experiences and therefore don’t have to be wrapped.
It is always possible to mix things up and make holidays actually happy. Here are some top ways to get the ball rolling to make sure that it is not a season that you just grin and bear your way through.
1) Admit where you are at. Just because it’s December doesn’t mean that you are going to be joyful. If you are not, that is valid. Admit it to yourself, which is the very first step to moving through. (Sometimes it takes a very long time to take the second step, but no rush.)
2) Prune your week. Rather than making the end of the year a mad rush to get everything done and everything experienced, take out some of the things that no longer work for you. You may need to rest more this year. That doesn’t mean you will want the same thing the next year, or the year afterwards. It is a wise practice to honor where you are.
3) Choose quiet. Silent night probably felt more like a holy night because it was silent. It is hard to see the magic in a world of smartphones, streaming holiday movies and Spotify Christmas playlists. Even if all of that stuff fills your heart, for an experiment, turn if off at least once a day. For five minutes, breathe and do nothing. This can help to avoid a case of the holiday overwhelms.
4) Be confident in your choices. I hear people who are in their senior years continue to blame their parents for the way their lives have turned out. There has to be a point when you take ownership. This doesn’t mean that you need to break hearts just for the sake of it, but living your authentic life is freeing for more people than you. It can give others permission to listen to their deepest longings. If we do things the way we have always done them, “just because” this is a way of living mindlessly. Mindfulness has purpose.