As we move further into the holiday season, there will likely be a lot of mixing, mingling, shopping, hosting, fun, and–yes–stress. Long lines and lineages can make us want to growl here and there, but I have found that most of my holiday stress comes by way of an outlook that is clouded by expectations, fears and past experiences that have led me to concerns about repeats in history. Yes, it is true; I am as human as anyone else. I have made sharp comments, been annoyed with shoppers and allowed the gossip about me to get the best of me. Though I do my best to remind myself to be grateful and patient, the reality is that sometimes saying, “It’s OK” while feeling that it’s not can set off an inauthentic daze that often exacerbates the entire situation.
Over the years, I have learned (by trial-and-error) that being grateful and patient are not snap decisions–as much as we’d like them to be. As with anything, we must take the steps towards change, towards accepting that it may be uncomfortable or awkward, and to become more familiar with the new environment we create with our new habits. The idea that we will walk around with a frozen smile on our faces is silly. We can frown, even growl, but if we say, “This is not OK, but I will be,” we will be because life is not perfect, people are not perfect, and we have gotten through bad moments before.
Notice I did not say bad days, I said moments. This was difficult to learn.
It can be so easy to paint a person or a situation in a broad dark stroke when things aren’t going well, but when we isolate a negative situation, a snappy exchange or a burnt turkey, we halt the avalanche and take back control. I try and do this not only at big family gatherings, but at work, at home and even at the gym when I have a not-so-great set on the rowing machine. It doesn’t always work, but sometimes it does, and it is during those times that I am most grateful for the power to choose what I will think, what I will say, what I will ignore and what I will react to.
Today, I would like to ask all of you how you plan to keep small frustrations from becoming big problems and your best tool for diffusing high-stress situations?
(Photo Courtesy of Pinterest)