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Seeing good in ourselves and others...

Wishing you a very Merry Mindful Christmas!

The way to a perfectly happy Christmas is to expect less and appreciate more!

So it is Christmas again, the Happy Season, the Silly Season… the air is filled with wishes. The shops are so enticing with all their super goods. 

I have a confession to make. There was many Christmas in my life where, instead of being so “perfectly” happy, I was so “perfectly” unhappy.  My expectations were way too high!  I had this fantasy that Christmas “should” bring me “perfect” happiness. I was convinced that everybody else was having a “perfect” time at Christmas except me. Years after years, I felt so hurt; while I was holding on to my "unrealistic" expectations, Christmas was always so “ordinary”. However, over time, fortunately, I changed my mind.  I gave myself the gift of expecting less and appreciating more.  And in so doing Christmas became so much more joyful.

Give yourself what you most desire

Every year now, I offer myself something that I know I will truly appreciate.  The truth is that nobody knows us as well as our self, so why should I expect others to know exactly what I most wish for? Since then, my Christmas has been more satisfying and I am more grateful for what others are offering and their good intentions. One of the great enjoyment of Christmas is to give.  I get so much in giving presents. But there is also much joy in receiving. The real joy of Christmas is the "social joy" of being together to celebrate.

Give yourself the gift of mindfulness
In addition, for the last few years, I give myself the gift of being more “present” as well as being more accepting, forgiving and compassionate.  Everyone else is feeling the same pressures. We are all in the same boat. We all are filled with images of unrealistic “perfect” Christmas. The reality is, we are being stuck in traffic jams, hangovers, family tension, walking on egg shells, keeping the peace, drinking too much, putting on weight, increasing the debt on the credit card, many hours in the kitchen cooking, showing a brave face and covering up for family dramas. Christmas is what it is! the hassles and the joy!... and I will do my best to make the most of it!

Christmas is so hectic that we can find it difficult in the Jolly Season to take the time to meditate and to do the formal mindfulness practices. But fortunately, we can still remember to do the informal mindfulness practices to avoid problematic knee jerk reactions. There are two simple practices described as anagrams that can enrich our Christmas.  For instance, throughout the days, we can STOP, that is, we Stop/pause, Take a breath out, Observe without judging so we can Proceed to respond more wisely. There is also the refreshing RAIN, where we Recognize our difficult moments with kindness, we Allow it to be what it is, then Investigate our thoughts, feelings and sensations with self-compassion to then Not identify, let go what is not helpful, care for ourselves, so we can carry on more skillfully.

Offering loving kindness
So this Christmas we can pay attention to what is happening in the moment with non-judgments, acceptance and gratitude. In particular, we can offer loving kindness to our selves and others. It is what it is, and what it is, is good enough! We are all feeling stressed! We are all doing our very best! I enjoy giving and I will enjoy the delights of others. I will be grateful for the presence of others and their gifts just as they are; perfectly imperfect. The gift is in the good intention of the giver.

May our suffering ease!

May we find peace!

May we be happy!

May we love one another!

Seeing  good in others and ourselves
During our get together, at Christmas, we do not always say the right things or others may be showing some of their less pleasant sides. My wish is to be able to see beyond what people say and do, which is at time unintentionally unskilled and not always reflect their true intentions.  I make mistakes as well, we all do… nobody is perfect! There have been many times when I meant well but I messed up!

May we see the good in each other!

May we see that we are more than our mistakes!

May we all love and accept each other as we are!

Our best moments will be with others; greeting, sharing, exchanging and seeing the joy in others, but also our worst moments will be with others; arguing, expressing different opinions, feeling betrayed, rejected, and hurt.

Christmas may be a time where we feel truly ‘unloved’ and “not good enough” or truly loved and thoroughly good enough. The truth is in the eye of the beholder. My truth will be what I see.

Christmas because is such a social time, we can start comparing ourselves with others.  We judge ourselves as inferior or superior or we want what others have achieved or we wish to be more like someone else. We just can’t help it, this is how our social mind is wired. Thoughts like “I am not good enough” or “I am so much better than…” or “It is not fair”, pop up in our mind.  But once, we are aware of this, we do not need to dwell on it. Instead, we can STOP, BREATHE and RE-THINK “this person is just like me”, seeing our similarities rather than our differences.  We are all the same, in that we all want to be valued and appreciated. We all have various talents and strengths; we all experience successes in different ways. We are doing our best which is ‘good enough’. Let us give each other what we truly want which is the gift of acceptance, harmony and love.

Let us be compassionate
This Christmas we can give ourselves the gift of not taking on board the chatter of our inner self-critic or the critic of others. When we find ourselves assuming negative stuff that we believe others are thinking of us, we can stop and think again! We may or may not be right and even, if we are right the negative stuff is not worth mulling over.  It is only one point of view. We know our truth. It is not our fault. We all have a negative thinking bias.  Being negative about other people's negativity is not being positive.

May we have compassion for our difficulties in seeing the good in each other.

May we be kind and encouraging to ourselves.

May we see the good in ourselves and in others.

Accepting what is
Often at Christmas we unduly “personalize”; that is, we perceive that everything is about “me”. Either, I blame myself for everything that happens that is wrong, or the opposite: I blame others for everything that is going wrong.  In truth, what is said and done happens because of a multitude of reasons, some of which, we have little control over.  If I blame myself for everything, I will feel frustrated and if I blame others for everything then, I will not see what I can do to correct my ways. So it is more helpful to think that we cannot control everything and ‘stuff’ happens and we do what we can to improve the situation.

With the gift of ‘self-awareness’ we can accept what we can’t change, so we can see what we can change. Most of all, we can change our mind, so that we may be more understanding of our self and others; loving and appreciating our beautiful imperfections.

With gratitude, we have more!
If we dwell on what we don't have, we will never have enough. If we are unrealistic in our expectations, we will be disappointed.  When we are thankful for what we have; we have more!  Christmas is a great time to express our gratitude to friends and family by writing meaningful messages in cards, exchanging thoughtful gifts, cooking for others to create joy in others. Giving is receiving! In being generous, we receive more joy; baking for our neighbours, volunteering, sharing with those who are less fortunate. Christmas is about our friends and loved one.  Dwelling in gratitude leads to more feelings of love and compassion which further open our heart and help rewire our brains so we have happier relationships and more fulfilling lives.

Wishing you a very Mindful, Merry Christmas!