As the holiday season kicks off and families begin coming together, many of us will take pause to give thanks for all the good things in our life. We might celebrate the past or the upcoming future. I find myself truly appreciating everything I have in my life at the moment — the good and the bad. This gratitude has helped re-wire how I interact with the world in a significant way.

Prior to this practice, I spent a lot of time trying to be right. It was so important to me to prove I was right that I ultimately created a caustic world around me. During the holiday season, you might feel some similar moods and friction within your relationships, and that’s okay! Below are four tips to remember if these harmful feelings and thoughts should surface.

  1. Happiness can’t be taken away; it can only be given away. People often blame their unhappiness on others. “If only my father would do this, or my client would do that, then everything would be ok.” However, in reality, it’s you who controls your happiness. If you rely on the ups and downs of others, you will never truly be happy. When you are struggling during the holiday season, create a daily gratitude list. This helps you to focus on what’s important. The longer you look at the list — the longer the list gets.
  2. Be present and actively listen. Actively listening is the greatest compliment you can offer someone. It is also the greatest compliment you can offer yourself. When you pull up to your holiday dinner (or simply walk into your kitchen), pause for a moment, take a deep breath and consciously leave all of your problems, worries, concerns and anxieties at the door. Do NOT bring them in with you. You deserve a break from your everyday life and a chance to improve your relationships with those around you. If you find your mind drifting around all the concerns you have in your life, reset by taking a small breath and focusing again on your loved ones.
  3. Share how grateful you are for your family and loved ones with them. As you get caught up in your own life, you often forget to share your appreciation and love for those around you. Quickly saying “I love you” every day to your significant other before leaving for work can become an expected part of the goodbye routine. During the holidays, take a few extra moments to tell them how grateful you are and how much meaning they bring to your life. It might take a bit more time to share and might feel awkward at first. However, this will significantly improve your appreciation for those around you in the long term, as well as create a basis for extending your practice in everyday life with those outside of your family and loved ones.
  4. Taking small breaks from the family isn’t a sign of weakness. During the holidays, you have the wonderful opportunity to reconvene with family that you may only see once a year. They come from all over the world and bring their own opinions, thoughts and points of view with them. Many may differ from your own. In this event, you may run out of things to say or simply need time to re-group your thoughts. Understandably, you don’t want to appear rude and definitely don’t want to justify needing a break. However, when you communicate with those around you that your leaving isn’t personal, you allow yourself individual moments alone without worry. These breaks give you the right amount of space and time to respond appropriately.

Remember, these practices can be extended beyond just the holiday season. The practice of Gratitude + Spirituality + Mindfulness can help create an awareness, and being aware of your own feelings and experiences will truly allow you to become happy.

Originally published at on November 25, 2015.

Originally published at