Chaos abounds: new Covid19 restrictions, increased numbers of deaths and illnesses, family and friends that can’t gather, financial strife for those who have lost jobs, divisive politics at the forefront of so many conversations. And it’s Christmas. You might say that the holidays are ruined.
That’s one perspective.
My perspective: “It’s a creative time.”
Last weekend, the Seattle skies were clear blue. It was cold out, but we were up for doing things differently. We invited our son and his family to an outside dinner — with masks and social distancing and warm clothes and a propane firepit cozying things up. Dinner on the deck was over in just over an hour, and we got to laugh and chat and be together for a precious window of time. In the past, I wouldn’t have imagined us eating outdoors in December.
Last weekend, having a meal outdoors with my family, I was overwhelmed with gratitude.
Your perspective matters this holiday season, especially this holiday season — not just to you, but to others as well.
What you tell yourself and others about anything becomes the truth. We know from neuroscience that energy follows attention. What this means is the things you notice, focus on and pay attention to are where your energy will go. It’s like the saying goes, What you think about, you bring about.
If you remain focused on the negative, on how hard the holidays are while we are in the midst of a global pandemic, your energy is likely to be low. You are likely to feel depleted, tired, irritable, angry. Mad that things aren’t the way they’ve been.
If you can shift your attention, you are likely to become calmer, more present, maybe even happy. Your brain will be more lit up and active. Feeling grateful and recognizing help from others creates a more relaxed body state and allows the benefits of lowered stress to wash over you.
And you can do all of this simply by choosing a perspective each day that provides calm sensibility for you and your family.
Choosing a perspective is easier to do than you might think. For example, one perspective might be “We’re fractured as a nation.” And we could certainly find evidence to support that. Another perspective is “We are learning about just how diverse we Americans are.” And that’s true, too. So, which perspective is more empowering? Which one would you choose if you could?
Guess what? Your actually do have a choice.
Here’s Why the Perspective You Choose Matters
When day-to-day routines are disrupted, as they have been since mid-March of this year, people look for supportive others to help them make sense out of what is happening and how to think about it. They want a perspective or way to understand that allows them to calm down and access their own sensibility. You are the source of this. Being calm and optimistic supports your family to get their own feet back under them.
Here are some ideas for creating a perspective that provides greater calm:
Pay attention to your own thought processes.
You have to notice your thinking and catch the disempowering, anxiety-provoking perspective you seem to be holding. What are you saying to yourself about all of this? If you can’t hear it, ask your friends or partner at home.
Consider the following examples. Do any of these thoughts sound familiar?
- This is a mess.
- We’ll never figure this out.
- We’ll never get back to living a normal life.
- The holidays are ruined.
Choose your perspective.
How can you think about what’s happening in a whole new way? How might someone not so close to the situation think about it? Try on perspectives until you find one that seems “right” for you. This isn’t about positive thinking. It’s about finding another perspective that is as true or truer than the perspectives above.
Here’s what that might sound like:
- We’re bright people; we can get creative about how we celebrate.
- A new “normal” is emerging. What do we need to do to be ready for it?
- How might we create a sense of “family” when we can’t be together?
Just for fun, try on this perspective today: “There’s nothing wrong here.”
See how your day changes by holding onto this. You may just find that you feel more empowered, more energized. Your holidays will be calm and joyful.