Tis the season… to be calm

Tis the season… to be calm

Have you noticed the pace has picked up this month? When you step into a mall, the frenzy is almost palatable. People scurrying around, desperate for the perfect gift, worried that they have forgotten someone, and distracted by the myriad of colors and choices on display. Bright lights, big stress!!!

The holiday season is meant to be about love, joy and sharing. Somehow the combination of generosity, obligation and tradition with a healthy dose of commercialism has created a mindset that is antithetical to the intention behind the actions. There is a contagious element to the frenetic holiday vibe too. The good news is that we get to choose how we will be about the holidays.

Several years ago, I talked with my family about Christmas and how I was feeling. My preference is to buy gifts for people throughout the year if I see something I think they will really love. I think that in my family, we generally have everything we need and if we don’t, we go and get it. I would rather spend time with someone doing something meaningful than swapping gift cards or checks. Communicating about values has made gift giving a lot lighter and more enjoyable in my family.

If we look at holiday stress as a bit of an epidemic, what is the antidote or inoculation?

– Being clear on what is important or a priority. What will set the house on fire if you don’t do it? What can wait? What is significant even though it is not urgent?

– Setting reasonable goals and timeframes (I remember helping my brother on Christmas Eve to shop for a present for my parents. We actually slid between closing doors to the department store so that we didn’t get locked out… we made it fun but it was also chaotic)

– Take care of yourself. Planning down time – In the go-go-go pace, make time for yourself to relax. You may even need to make appointments with yourself in your calendar. Do things that you enjoy doing or find relaxing. Go see your acupuncturist to boost your immune system and have stress relief. Eat well AND regularly. Have a bubble bath. Take a yoga class. The better rested you are, the more equipped you will be to handle the extra pressure of the season.

– Communicate with the people around you about your approach to the holiday season. Design with your family how you would like to handle different aspects of your time together. Be mindful of your responses and words when people talk about how stressed or crazy they feel. You get to either collude with their stress or be a stress buster.

Sometimes I feel a bit like a country girl floating through the big city. I like to keep life simple (even when traveling at break neck speed) and not engage with the drama.

What is your relationship with calmness?

Making decisions: Apples to Oranges

Decision Making Process with a Personal CoachNot all fruit are created equal.

Decisions in grown up life are rarely simple. They tend to be less of “blue cup or red cup” and more like move to Toronto for a great job opportunity or start your own business here. I call these “Apples to Oranges” decisions.

Coaching can help you through the decision making process by taking “Apples to Oranges” options and helping you figure out what are the root factors in the decision and how they weigh in importance to you. In a sense, it helps you quantify what can be a very strong emotional decision.

If you are facing an “Apples to Oranges” decision in your life or business, consider how coaching may help. For more details on my “Apples to Oranges” package, click here.

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Happy vs. Happy

A few years ago, my friend said to me “Everyone is just trying to feel better.” I was really puzzled. While the answer to the Great Question of Life, the Universe and Everything is not 42, as Deep Thought answers in The Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, I figured that it was more complicated than a feeling.

When Dr. Melissa Carr of Active Life Health Clinic asked me to write an article for her newsletter about being intentional, her topic of SAD vs. SAD (Standard American Diet vs. Seasonal Affective Disorder) sparked an idea of happy vs. happy. Dictionary.com defines happy as:

–adjective, -pi·er, -pi·est.

  1. pleased, or glad, as over a particular thing: to be happy to see a person.
  2. characterized by or indicative of pleasure, contentment, or joy: a happy mood; a happy frame of mind
  3. favored by fortune; fortunate or lucky: a happy, fruitful land.
  4. apt or felicitous, as actions, utterances, or ideas.
  5. obsessed by or quick to use the item indicated (usually used in combination): a trigger-happy gangster. Everybody is gadget-happy these days.

What strikes me about #1-4 is that they are about a temporal state, impacted by the circumstances of the moment. Happy is an adjective. If you reach into the recesses of elementary school lessons on parts of speech, that means that it describes a noun. The noun in this case is a person: you. A happy you. So when are you most happy? When you are being hugged? When you get a raise? When you are singing in the shower?

What about when you aren’t…? What if you could make happy a constant state of being?

The ancient teacher Paul, said, “I have learned to be content regardless of the circumstance…” His circumstances included being jailed, tortured and enduring public scorn – ok, so in a difficult circumstance contest, he wins most people hands down but the lesson is true for both extreme and minor circumstances. When we choose an attitude of joy, regardless of what we face, our whole world looks different and we feel better.

What does it take to learn that secret of choosing to be happy? I believe that the operative word here is ‘choose’. It is not always an easy choice. We must say yes to some things and no to others. Here are some places to start:

– I say yes to choosing work aligned with my values, even if there is a financial impact.

– I say yes to simplifying my schedule to make more time for……..

– I say no to relationships that constantly drain me…

– I say no to overcommitting, even when I feel pressure from other people.

Douglas Adam’s wrote: “He felt that his whole life was some kind of a dream and he sometimes wondered whose it was and whether they were enjoying it.” I believe our hearts continue to know what is right for us and also to dream. What, right now, is the thing that would move you towards having a truly happy 2011?

The fifth definition of happy  is “obsessed by or quick to use the item indicated” as in trigger-happy. What would it like to be joy-happy?

Live your dream AND enjoy it. Feel Better. Choose joy.