Today’s big idea is that a really helpful way to feel less overwhelmed and overworked during the holidays–for those things you can’t outsource, minimize, or ignore, as I talked about on Monday–is to make peace with the doing.
Meaning, focus on just accepting the fact that the holidays come with a certain amount of effort. Hating that effort, or resisting it, only makes your work feel harder.
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Listen, I get that there is a lot of work that goes into holiday celebrations
And it is so natural and tempting to kind of groan your way through them, or talk about how you hate them. I am the point person for gifts for my kids, for the people within my little nuclear family, as well as extended family. I spend a lot of time sending gift ideas and finding links and talking about sizing and keeping track of what’s arrived and what needs wrapping. And I caught myself thinking the other day “I hate gifts! I just hate them!”
But then I gave myself a little talking to. First, what a freaking privilege to have people who want to buy things for my kids. Second, the kids LOVE the present aspect of Christmas. And it’s really a bummer to open up something that just doesn’t jibe with who you are or what you like. I get that as problems go, it’s low on the list but, when you’re a kid, it matters more.
I also remind myself that gifts are not my love language
But they are my kids’. And then I can get to a place where I may not love the gift wrangling, but it’s OK.
So you may not feel 100% at peace with all the stuff you’ve got to do all the time. But even just remembering that you could choose to accept that this is just part of it can help you get to a place where you’re not hating every minute.
A truth about the holidays is that they ARE more work than normal. It’s just a fact. Unless of course you’re not celebrating in any way. But I’m guessing there’s still work to be done in not getting sucked into the cultural frenzy and feeling content. It’s just more emotional and mental work.
Acceptance is this trump card that you always have in your back pocket. But it’s also easy to forget about. It’s easy to get focused on what you can do to change something, which probably entails working harder in some way. But you don’t always have to work harder, or try to change things. Sometimes, you can just….accept them.
So let’s talk about how to make peace with the doing.
My first suggestion is, can you make your holiday-related chores more enjoyable somehow? Can you play some great music while you do them, or invite a friend to go shopping with you, or make yourself a truly excellent cup of coffee or tea or hot cocoa while you write your holiday cards? Anything to help you enjoy the actual experience of doing the thing, and not waiting until after it’s done to feel good. You know… have fun along the way.
Also, and this is kind of next level, but can you use these tasks as an opportunity to practice being OK?
Even when you’re doing things you don’t particularly want to do? We all need this skill. I’m constantly telling my kids when they complain about having to do something they don’t want to do, “You don’t have to want to do it, you just have to do it.” You can still acknowledge that really you’d rather eat dirt than do this thing, but then you simply decide instead to just do it because it’s there, and it needs doing, and maybe there’s even a little peace you can find while doing this thing, because you’ve accepted that it’s there for the doing.
Thich Nhat Hanh, the Buddhist monk who did so much to bring the concept of mindfulness to the West, in his book The Miracle of Mindfulness, calls it washing the dishes to wash the dishes. Not because no one else is doing the dishes, or so the kitchen will be clean and then you can relax, but just because they’re there, and they need doing.
So do the holiday thing to do the holiday thing.
When you can just accept the task, you actually get to relax into it. And then you’re relaxed, and your mind and body are working together, and it’s almost like going to yoga class or sitting down to meditate. It refreshes you instead of depletes you.
But don’t just take my word for it. Your tiny assignment is to approach some task, whether it’s holiday-related or not, with acceptance–before the end of the day today. Surely there is something in your experience that needs doing that you don’t want to do. See what happens when you make peace with the doing. It can’t be worse hating every second of it!