Stressed This Holiday Season?
By Dr. Jodi Ritch
Every year the holidays are more stressful than I want them to be. Maybe it’s the magazine covers with perfect tables prepared or the magnificent Pinterest that provides way too many ideas for any gathering, but every year I go to bed before a holiday with a super long to-do list that kicks around the old noggin all night instead of having a restful slumber before a big gathering. This always leads to not feeling well rested for the big event and worse yet not enjoying it to the fullest while it is actually happening. And of course the grand finale of total relief that I survived the day. Forget that!
This year is going to be different. I’m older and wiser. This year I have my new secret weapon: Gratitude. I know what you’re thinking: of course I’m grateful, it’s Thanksgiving. I’m talking about the power of a gratitude practice. In September, Pam Grout released a book called Thank and Grow Rich that I highly recommend for anyone interested in trying her thirty-day experiment in shameless gratitude and unabashed joy. I along with several friends have been doing her gratitude experiments and enjoying the practice. We have a Facebook group where we list three new things we are grateful for each day. The accountability of the group is helping us form a habit, but it also is super fun to see what everyone is grateful for each day. There is an awesome synergy to not only writing my gratitude down but sharing it with others and feeling grateful for many of the same things they list each day.
The primitive part of our brain is very good at automatically finding things to worry about every day. This is important to keep us from skipping down the highway. However, with the constant availability of media and information streaming in from around the world, we are much more bombarded with things to worry about than our brains can handle. Gratitude practice starts to retrain the brain to look for things that are going right. And just like working out at the gym, the more you practice the better you get. After a few weeks, I was thankful for toenails and mist on a fallen leaf. I was suddenly tuned in to more of what is going right in the world. Suddenly, a power outage became a gratitude-fest about all the wonderful things we can do with electricity. Getting up late for work became gratitude for a car that starts and a warm bed that keeps me resting. We all can experience more joy by tuning into all the magnificent things that are going right each and every moment of each and every day. Fifty trillion cells in your body are working in perfect harmony today. The sun is rising and setting without being told what to do. Raising your vibration to joy not only feels good, but it ripples out to those around you. Walk into a coffee shop bummed out and see how it goes, then walk in smiling and laughing and people will gravitate toward you.
Whether you resonate with these ideas or not, I encourage you to give it a try with your family and friends this December. You can start small with a jar and post-it notes to write things you are grateful for each day and then read them all on New Year’s Eve. Or start your own Facebook group to post in, your own Instagram for pics of what you are grateful for, pin it or snap chat. Social media needs more joy and gratitude. Consider it your cosmic gift to the universe this holiday season, enJoy! Having trouble getting started? Watch this on youtube: “TEDtalk Gratitude with Louie Schwartzberg.”