There is something magical about the holidays. The excitement in children’s eyes, combined with beautiful lights, festive music and glorious food make this time of year very special. Oftentimes, however, we get caught up in the stress and pressure that comes with the holidays. It’s by far the busiest time of year and it’s easy to get overwhelmed trying to get everything done before the clock strikes twelve.
The words “peace, love and joy” symbolize the holiday spirit, but unless they also symbolize your own life, you may be left feeling empty.
Let’s take a closer look at what it really means to have peace in your world, love in your heart and joy in your life. In doing so, you will give yourself a valuable gift – the gift of contentment.
Finding peace within
“Peace: a state of calm and quiet; freedom from disturbing thoughts; and an agreement to end conflicts.”
Finding peace of mind means letting go of our expectations. It is better to expect that things will go wrong from time to time rather than expecting things to be perfect. This means letting go of control and accepting things as they are.
Peace also comes from developing a deeper awareness of how our thoughts affect our mood. A mind filled with negative or worried thoughts is certainly not at peace. When we are entangled in the past or worrying about the future, we forget to live right now. Consider letting go of thoughts that fill your mind with unnecessary clutter.
Try this exercise throughout the day to clear or “reset” your mind: take a few moments and become aware of your breathing. Breathe in and out deeply and slowly. Repeat these full breaths until you feel a sense of relaxation and calm. Focusing on the simple act of breathing will bring you back to the present moment, which is generally a more peaceful place to be.
Open your heart
“Love: a feeling of warm personal attachment and deep affection for another.”
In some deep part of our hearts, we are all aware of one truth: life is always about love. It is the most important part of the human experience. Ultimately, all we’re really left with is how we were able to love ourselves and other people.
Self-love is difficult for many people. We spend so much of our time and energy focused on others that we forget to recharge and care for ourselves. Yet, it’s very difficult to take care of someone else or make a positive difference in someone’s life when you are emotionally and physically spent. Loving yourself allows you to more fully love others.
Love between partners, love in a family and love among friends all have their unique qualities. When we experience deep, true love in each of these relationships our lives become full and rewarding. We need to remember to nurture these love relationships. Some people unintentionally neglect the people they love in the flurry of life. If we can’t recognize the love that is all around us, we are essentially in trouble.
Remember, if you give love freely, you will receive it back ten-fold!
“Joy: to fill with ecstatic happiness, pleasure, or gratification.”
When author and lecturer Debrena Jackson Grady travels around the country leading workshops on “All the Joy You Can Stand”, she asks participants to write down their answer to a simple question: “What really brings you joy?” Time and again she watches as people stare into space as their blank papers sit before them. Why is this question so difficult to answer? Because the constant motion of our lives, lack of free time and list of “to do’s” can lead some to question whether true joy is possible.
While it isn’t always possible to do a huge overhaul of your life, it is possible to find joy in small experiences each day. Grady suggests taking a half-hour of undistracted time to write about what brings you joy and when the last time you experienced it was. She suggests listing three things that bring you joy from each area of your life such as family, work, friendships, finances and health. Now, look for areas that are out of alignment. For example if you listed the three parts of your job that bring you the most joy, but this only takes up 20 percent of your workday, then it’s time to consider making some changes at work.
Increasing joy means increasing your awareness of what brings you the most happiness in your life. It’s about having gratitude for those things that fill you up and courage to change those things that rob you of joy. If something or someone is taking up a good deal of your time, but causing you a good deal of misery, than maybe it’s time to move on.
As you go through this holiday season, pay attention to the peace, love and joy that is all around you. And remind yourself that it’s not just about saying those words, but living them too!