Wondering how you can enjoy the festive season more this year?
The festive season is approaching and meeting with our loved ones is often part of it. While it's wonderful to get together and celebrate, some of us might have mixed feelings about all the emotions and expectations that come with it.
That's not surprising, as our hardly established daily rhythm might fall to pieces when travelling or having the house full of guests. We need to adapt to others' needs and plan our time around these festive events that mark the end of the year.
So how can we truly enjoy these special days without getting caught up in disappointment or disagreement when things are just not going the way we were hoping them to?
One of the keys to a pleasant festive time lies in understanding our selective perception.
We seem to have a filter in our perception which emphasizes all things negative. This makes sense from an evolutionary perspective to detect potential dangers but more often than not it proves to make life harder than necessary in modern society.
What also happens often is that we compare positive and negative experiences or, even worse, devalue positive experiences with negative ones. Like, "Having my parents over for a festive Christmas dinner was great, but then they ruined it with this discussion about xyz."
Yes, things don't always turn out to be perfect. In fact, they hardly ever do. While we just wish they would, we forget to focus on all the good things happening around us. Could we not have simply said: "I really enjoyed spending time with my parents, and the dinner was delicious."
Intentionally pointing the spotlight on the positive aspects does require the will to work on our perception as well as some practice. But one thing is for sure: It is possible to control how we perceive, value and remember our experiences.
To prepare for the festive season and fully enjoy it, here's a technique that can help you focus on the positives:
In a happy moment which helps you to remember previous happy moments, note down what exactly you enjoyed last Christmas, Chanukka or Divali. This can be anything from singing songs together, to lighting candles in the house or just being able to read a book all night.
Try to feel the positive emotions connected with these moments and look at your notes again from time to time.
When the celebrations and gettogethers have started, try to focus on all these emotions, events, smells that you enjoy so much. Especially when things are becoming tiring or tense, remember that you are trying to shift your attention to the positive sides of the events.
You might even be able take action on your written down favourites and light these candles or find rest in your comfort corner. It's ok to take good care of yourself at family festivities!