One Christmas many years ago, before my husband and I had our boys, I remember putting pressure on him and demanding that things be a certain way for this special day. Stressed out, I incessantly nagged him. I wanted the holiday to be perfect and without any mess ups. Having heard enough, he finally shot back with “Every day is Christmas, why do we need to place such a massive significance on this one day?”.
I can vividly recall that moment because he made me realize that every day should indeed be special. Since then I no longer feel the ups and downs of anxiety I once did about the end of the year holidays and I’ll share why it has vanished forever.
Holiday blues used to set in immediately after the big event. Like mulled wine, I was content to simmer slowly with a steady focus on all that I didn’t have instead of all that I did have. In the meantime, I was merely counting down the days until the next major vacation or special celebration. For years now, my husband Andy and I have put forth a great effort to practice gratitude with regularity in our lives. We have passed on and share this practice with our two young boys, Eli and Tai.
Every night, as a family, we give thanks and share what the highlights of our day have been. It mostly ends with the same 3 Fs (family, friends and food). Even on days that have been challenging, we find something to be grateful for (even those dirty dishes in the kitchen remind of how lucky we are to have access to good food as many people do not have this luxury).
We scan our days for even the tiniest of things to be grateful for. If one of our boys is not genuinely in the mood to do this, he simply listens to the rest of us list off our inventory of grateful moments. At the end of the day it’s quite easy to be fatigued and frustrated but this one moment always manages to swing us into a different perspective. Having read Charles Duhigg’s, The Power of Habits, he says ‘What you do every day matters more than what you do every once in a while.” So making this simple practice a daily habit has helped to remind us just how special each day can be. Without question Christmas and other festive celebrations remain important to our family, but it’s focusing on the little delights in daily living which have helped to change our philosophy and give us a more healthy perspective. Being grateful and present is all a part of becoming more mindful.
Focus on the good in your life now, give gratitude, and strive to be happy.
Neila Steele & Andy Vasily