Every year, the Holiday Season brings with it a mixed bag of people and things. There are relatives you look forward to spending time with, friends you can’t wait to get together with, gifts you enjoy and parties galore. As well as, sigh, relatives you can’t stand, friends you’d rather forget, gifts you can’t even re-gift, and parties you drag your unwilling body to. Truly, a mixed bag.
The fun parts are easy. If anything, those people and experiences are uplifting and inspiring and remind you of the specialness of the Holiday Season. But how about the not-so-fun parts? What can you do about those?
You can avoid unpleasant people and things if you wish, but some are unavoidable. Close but annoying relatives, long-standing friends who may not be such friends anymore, and obligatory work parties may all make you want to run screaming into the woods, but we rarely have that choice. So rather than inflict further misery on yourself, why not try a dose of kindness?
The Cambridge Dictionary defines kindness as “the quality of being generous, helpful, and caring about other people.” Instead of avoiding your Uncle Harry, who drinks too much, cracks bad jokes and laughs too loud at them, you figured he’s probably lonely and doesn’t know how to connect socially.
That simple change of thought is evidence of kindness: you demonstrate your caring about others by attempting to understand behavior rather than condemn it. No, you don’t need to become his quasi-therapist. But here’s the thing, by that one change of thought, you may look at him differently, which in turn does wonderful things for you.
Yes, kindness is one of those gifts you give to others, even as it holds great benefit for you. Research has demonstrated repeatedly that being a giving, caring, kind person, is linked with a longer life. Kindness contributes to our well-being and longevity in numerous ways. For example, it reduces risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as high blood pressure, and helps to maintain vitality and cognitive function.
Challenge yourself this Holiday Season to up your kindness quotient, and significantly lower your complaint quotient. After all, groaning and moaning about that obligatory work party or family dinner does you no good. You must attend, so you might as well try kindness as your modus operandi.
You might offer to help out with the decorations or help at the punch bowl. Being involved often feels better than standing around with a fake smile on your face. Or you might think of a question or two that could spark conversation with that newbie, or cousin, making them feel more at ease, again, an act of kindness. Simply deciding to be kind rather than grinchy will open your mind to more generous, caring possibilities.
When you put yourself in the position of “having to” as in “I have to deal with Uncle Harry” or “I have to go to this party,” you cast yourself in the role of victim. Powerless, depressed, even hopeless. Where’s the fun in that? Wouldn’t you rather be a hero?
Oh, not necessarily the jumping tall buildings in a single-bound type hero, just someone who enjoys seeking to appreciate others as they are, helping out where appropriate, and being open to the possibility of something good emerging from any given situation. No big deal; just being kind puts you in the realm of “hero.” Begrudging, criticizing and complaining do not.
This Holiday Season, you can make the choice. Choose to exercise your new-found super-power: kindness. You will enjoy a Holiday Season like no other, filled with surprising discoveries and fun.
What has worked for you to get along with unpleasant relatives or friends during the holidays? Do you have a story about how you were able to connect with even your most grumpiest relative during a holiday gathering?
Tags Finding Happiness