The holidays are perfectly designed to generate a steady state of cortisol-laden stress. Daylight shrinks, over-demanding schedules are taxed and the crushing rush of the holidays threatens a scarce supply of good cheer. Stress is all around us, dominating the environment and diminishing the true meaning of the holidays.

This year be the dissenting figure and choose instead to be a source of joy; spread its curative balm first within and then to friends, family and strangers. Enjoy the unrestrained happiness that is often obscured by stress and diminished by overwhelmed schedules. Joy is here unvarnished in simple pleasures, friends, self-care and in our children’s innate ability to spark unspeakable happiness.

Make your life joyous and inspire others along the way. Empower your holidays by choosing your attitudes, controlling the tone and in moments of stress, embody the calm that can extract joy from thin air. It is a matter of putting joy into action, serving as a catalyst to impact the greater good.

Slow Down

It is impossible to experience sustained joy at warp speed, that kind of blurred view diminishes our ability to comprehend its presence. The secret to finding joy begins with understanding that it rarely comes in big, explosive measures but instead breaks free in the small details of the day.

Start by creating a healthy environment that will attract joy, then set the mood with a resounding 'No!' to any activity or person that zaps joy in its tracks. Carve out sacred time with family, friends or in solitude and enjoy it without stress or expectations.

Seek Beauty

Humans naturally seek beauty in nature, works of art, pleasure and in things we truly value. There is a deep, joyous reaction in our primal need to experience beauty. Seek out the meticulous, the visually splendid and aesthetically pleasing experiences that capture your attention and imagination.

Choose Experience Over Things

Imagine your latest acquisition on top of a landfill, as it will surely be there some day, and then weigh it against a joyous experience. Invest in experiences and adventure, they reward intrinsically and shape our being cumulatively. Experiences are also transformative and joyful, they never grow old or get used up but instead patina with age. A walk-about, even a small one, will wake you up and make you feel alive because it challenges an established life. It forces you to examine and peel back your life layer by layer and that sort of inspection can bring you to happy surprises.


No need for lavish parties or a devil's-in-the-details kind of outing. Good cheer can come from lovely conversations by a roaring fire, laughter with your child or the delight of actively engaging in outdoor fun. A solitary run in the mountains at sunset can be an awe-inspiring and personal celebration.


Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life…. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.  Melody Beattie

When we appreciate the things we have, it magnifies goodness and creates awareness of abundance in our lives. Practicing gratitude calls attention to our self worth and has the power to transform daily life. It encourages us to give to others, to spread thanks out to our community. Gratitude reduces stress levels, makes us less envious or regretful, and diminishes resentment. Take a look at your life, notice the goodness, the people who love unconditionally and see all the reasons to feel blessed in the unfathomable gift we call life.

4 Responses...

Mary margaret E. says:
December 14, 2010 at 8:35 AM
Gratitude is a wonderful thing and the trick is to truly want what you have since we are all so very blessed!
Anonymous says:
December 14, 2010 at 5:47 PM
And it is important to be your authentic self and share your special blessings.
Anonymous says:
December 16, 2010 at 7:33 PM
I agree and this is the time of the year that we all forgive and count our blessings. A lot of people are less fortunate and we shall all be blessed with the goodness of love, peace and joy.
Anonymous says:
December 26, 2010 at 4:16 PM
Thank you. Being grateful is powerful. If you seek it, you will find it. Thank you.
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