Last Christmas ….

The holiday season is upon us , gear up for traditions (including the above titled song being played to freaking death !) … I’ve already touched on happiness during the holidays and happiness thieves , if you’ve already read these you can probably guess where this is going 🙂

So this actually happened a few years back…. It was an unusually cold winter with warm days sprinkled in just enough to make everybody sick ! Normally I go and spend Christmas with special friends but between nasty roads and everybody being sick we cancelled it ! So, this is a pretty sad story huh ? Absolutely not ! Read on !

For the very first time in my adult life I was faced with a Christmas where I was obligated to do nothing ! Sure I would miss everybody but it was almost a guilty pleasure that all that pressure of our usual routine had been broken ! In earlier posts I wrote how holiday traditions can cause undo stress and how your routine can steal your happiness, this is a good example of both.. Don’t get me wrong I absolutely love the tradition but skipping a year and not hurting anybody feelings, almost like winning the Christmas lotto !

I use this quote a lot and I won’t apologize for using it again , “Nothing changes if nothing changes” ! This one change (albeit a pretty major change) totally changed that Christmas ! The roads are still nasty so anything that involves an overpass isn’t something I want to tackle ! I wound up at the local IHOP , being stuck at home had given me a bit of cabin fever so when I saw tons of people my heart became very happy ! Most of these folks were people just like me that had their travel, their “tradition” broken and I thought momentarily this might be a downer ! Quite the opposite ! IHOP was filled, past capacity really , there was a deliberate attitude of inclusion and an effort to not turn anybody back out into weather.. I’m not sure what they were paying the wait staff or possibly letting them drink but the level of friendliness and happiness could barely be contained ! It took hours to get food and nobody seemed to mind , Christmas carols were sung , some folks were out of their seats socializing in ways that would never happen any other day ! I couldn’t help but be amused by folks huddled around the very minimal plastic Christmas tree in the waiting area drinking their hot chocolate or coffee sharing laughs and stories. Everybody agreed that we probably shouldn’t tell the people who had otherwise expected us that this was likely one of the best Christmas of our adult lives !

So what happened here ?

Routine was broken , we all spent time with people outside our normal circle, new ideas and stories were shared ! Despite even the best of hearts or intent we as human being tend to get stuck in our ideas, our own world, dare I say, it our “perspective”. This was a rare instance where perspective could be shared in verbal and nonverbal ways in a non-threatening way in a very neutral atmosphere.. New perspectives although sometimes foreign to us often bring harmony and understanding (happiness).

New perspectives shouldn’t threaten our own!

A Tradition was skipped for one year, sometimes we do things because it’s “just what we do” . don’t get me wrong I missed Uncle Bob and the stories of his latest ailments and how he will likely die soon (fictional character here, but i bet you have one too) and the attempt to find the right words for such holiday appropriate conversation, not really a lot of happiness to be found in that ! I’ve mentioned that “Happiness Takes Work” maintaining our happiness with folks we love can be exhausting !

Here comes that word again “Perspective” … Can you imagine how different this story would be if I had taken the attitude “Christmas is ruined” and I’ll be honest that thought did cross my mind ! Instead I decided to re frame my perspective ,what are the good things about this situation, what work do I need to do to make this a happier situation ? I’ll admit that the outcome was so far beyond anything I could have imagined , but had I kept the “Christmas is ruined” attitude then this really would be a sad story about a guy alone on Christmas eating a pot pie , talk about working to make that a happy situation , exhausting ! Instead I dare say it was one of the very best Christmas for me ever !

I’m not advocating abandoning your Routine or Traditions, however I might suggest some happiness might be found in less dramatic tweaks, even small changes to your overall level of happiness can have a dramatic effect !

Do the work you need to do to be happy then share that happiness like crazy !

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