I’ve been thinking a lot about the notion of creating one’s own happiness, especially as we settle in to the holiday season. Regardless of your faith background, the holidays, in theory, are meant to be a time spent with family… to express gratitude and thanks for our blessings and opportunities…to come together in a shared unity of love and togetherness. Even the media reminds us daily through movies, commercials, etc. that our holidays should look, smell, taste, feel, and appear a specific way (if we are doing it “right”, that is).
But in reality, for many of us, the holidays often do not live up to this magical ideal. Instead of visions of sugar plums dancing and dreidels joyfully spinning, many people are flooded with painful memories or current realizations of the things missing in one’s life. Maybe it’s the acknowledgement of financial constraints and lack of resources which make it difficult t
o celebrate. Or perhaps it is being estranged or unaccepted by one’s family which creates tension and hardship during this time of year. Regardless of the reason, in the psychological community, we are well aware that rates of depression and suicidality spike during the holiday season and winter months. With this staggering truth in mind, I wanted to write this blog post for anyone who finds this time of year particularly challenging.
We see you.
And we feel you.
It is never too late to live the life you want to live and to be with the people you want to be with. And I truly believe that “family” and “happiness” come in all sorts of shapes and sizes.
So this holiday season, I encourage you all to be with the people who lift you up, not put you down… to focus on what you have and not what you don’t… to celebrate the baby steps towards change and accomplishment and not dwell on the unfinished product… and most importantly, to practice self-compassion and not beat yourself up when you feel like you fall short of all these things. By re-committing ourselves daily to this mindset, we can help create real, positive life changes.
Here’s to wishing you and yours a very happy and healthy holiday season!