The holidays are a time of joy—feeling alive, hopeful, and full of goodwill and kindness towards our fellow humans.
Of course, some of us may occasionally struggle to get into the holiday spirit, especially with the busyness and hectic nature of the holiday season. We may wonder what happened to that magic and wonder we felt during our childhood holidays. How do we feel those connections and make the season feel vibrant and alive?
If we want to experience more joy and festive feelings, we can tap into our “flow” to get into the holiday spirit. Here’s how to find your holiday groove and get festive.
The holidays are really a perfect time to tap into our inner energy and to feel the warmth and vibrance of life. When we engage with others and connect, we’ll find those heartwarming feelings that we long for all year, but especially during the holidays.
This is the time of year when whole communities come together. People are feeling charitable. The sense of connectedness fosters our feelings of love and peace. We’re focused on engaging with each other and spending time with loved ones.
In all honesty, this is my favorite time of year—but not for the nostalgia, the over-the-top gifts, or the delicious food. Instead, what draws me so deeply to this season is the atmosphere. The holidays burst with aliveness, joy, and what I call “flow.” Flow is a feeling or energy—a vibe, if you will. When we’re experiencing flow, life feels in harmony, vibrant, “happening” (to borrow a favorite phrase from the ’70s).
We can experience flow all year—when we’re really engaged and challenged at work and firing on all cylinders. We might find flow when we’re involved in a favorite activity, creating something beautiful, connecting with our spouse or our children, or even taking some important time to show ourselves some compassion.
As long as we don’t zone out on too much wine, eggnog, or holiday cookies, we often feel like we’re engaged and turned on. We’re not giving into soft addictions to numb ourselves. We’re alive, and as a result, our hearts feel full!
The holiday season often gives us a chance to spend time with our loved ones. In fact, it might be one of the few times a year we get to really visit. It’s a time when we’re focused on giving—we’re trying to meet the needs of others, whether that means a gift or a listening ear. We’re empathizing with friends and family as we think, “What would she really want for Christmas?” or “What message should I write on his Hannukah card?”
Even as we ponder our end-of-year charitable giving, we’re thinking of meeting the needs of others around the world. We come up with a holiday list, and then we diligently decode the lists of our loved ones, brainstorming what they really want from us. It’s truly a season of empathy and thinking outside of ourselves. This is the season that brings out our best.
I’ll admit, I love Christmas…a LOT. In fact, my staff teasingly calls me the “Christmas Angel.” I love attending holiday events, listening to seasonal music, picking out gifts for loved ones. I’m always trying to find ways to get into the holiday spirit in each experience. (Those who have read the Soft Addiction Solution may notice I purposely didn’t list “collecting holiday décor” as a soft addiction. I didn’t want to get caught!)
All kidding aside, for me, the season is much more than trimmings and trappings. The holidays are full of light, connection, and a chance to engage those around us with love and positive intentions. I take every opportunity to fill my season with meaning and get into the holiday spirit because I’ve learned that with such a busy life, I can’t afford to let the holidays pass me by.
Now, having said all of these positive aspects of the season, the holidays are still a difficult time and even a considerable challenge for some of us. As we face the passing year, we may find we’re left with a sense of regret or sadness. When we reflect on the last twelve months, we may feel like we haven’t done enough, that we’ve made mistakes, or had to deal with some tough stuff.
Similarly, the barrage of social invitations and interactions we face during the holidays can bring worries and frustrations. We may have strong emotions that come up around our families, coworkers, and friends. We may worry that we didn’t do enough or feel lonely and disconnected. As the days get shorter and colder, the season can feel melancholy.
Celebrating the holidays can be simple. We don’t need to have the biggest tree, the most lights, or give the most presents. Capturing our flow doesn’t need to take up much time, but it requires us to set an intention. Rather than viewing holidays as more clutter on our to-do list, we can seek out those tiny moments of pure celebration and fun. When we look at the holidays as a hassle or stressor, we need to “get through,” then we miss out on the chance for aliveness and abundance in the moment.
For example, I carry a few inspirational holiday books with me. I tuck one in my bag, keep on in the car, and stash one at the office. I display a few holiday books on my coffee table at home. Then when I need inspiration or have a spare moment, I’ll take a conscious break to feel uplifted and inspired by a seasonal story.
I watch for opportunities to enjoy holiday moments, no matter where I am or what I’m up to. I’ll read the newspaper and local listings for upcoming holiday plays, concerts, and performances. There are so many at this time of year, and they don’t need to be Broadway-level entertainment either. A small choir performance at a country church or a holiday jazz ensemble at the coffee shop is often as moving as a professional concert performance.
During December, I look for windows to get into the holiday spirit throughout my daily activities. I might pop over to the art museum for 15 minutes and bask in Botticelli’s beautiful painting of the holy family. I’ve enjoyed lunch on a bench under the most enormous holiday tree I could find in the city. I’ll often change my commute to appreciate the holiday lights and decorations on different routes. I’ve also spent time meditating and participating in holiday services of many faiths and denominations. One of my favorite holiday activities is leading some extraordinary networking events here at the Wright Institute.
Bob and I watch holiday movies, attend performances, and go for walks in the crisp air during date nights. I play holiday music in my car, while I’m at home, and in my office—using any chance, I can find to add some musical cheer to my day. I love decorating our house with the season’s symbols like stars, angels, Santa figures, lights, and scented candles.
I look forward to my annual tradition of baking and decorating cookies for family and friends. When I’m doing holiday “tasks” like writing cards and wrapping gifts, I make it festive with a fire crackling in the fireplace and White Christmas playing in the background.
Another favorite holiday tradition takes place at the office. Everyone on staff writes down their complete holiday wish list for the upcoming year. The sky’s the limit! Anything can go on the list—from over-the-top hopes and dreams for the world to something as simple as a book. The list may include yearnings and longings of their soul, activities they wish to do, or items they want to receive like jewelry or a game. Writing out a holiday wish list is an excellent way to get into the holiday spirit. More importantly, it’s a perfect practice for setting intentions for the upcoming year. When we make a wish list, we ask the universe to help meet our yearnings. It’s a beautiful opportunity to get to know each other more deeply too.
As I go throughout the day, I think of the special friends and allies in my life. I ponder their wishes and yearnings for the season. I might see an item for them when I’m out shopping—picking out the gift feels very deliberate and joyful, knowing that it’s exactly what they want. I might wish them positivity and light during my daily prayers and meditation. I may write them a personal card, reflecting my gratitude for their role in my life.
The holidays hold a special place in my heart. As you enter your holiday season—whatever your faith or tradition—I encourage you to look for creative possibilities to get into the holiday spirit and add inspiration and energy to your days.
For more ways you can live with more purpose and intention, please explore our courses on Wright Now. We have many resources to help you find more satisfaction and joy in your career, relationships, or in your personal growth. So make this year the year you decide to live a life of MORE.
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The Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential is a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Foundation performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.