DEAR READERS: Merry Christmas! On this day and throughout this week, we historically choose to celebrate. While this is a Christian holiday, it has become a marker for the time of year when family and friends pause from work and school and choose to spend time together. Yes, it can also represent the time when people spend way too much money lavishing each other with gifts.
My prayer is that every one of us will take a few minutes today and throughout the days leading up to the end of the year to practice gratitude. Let’s ask ourselves what brings us joy and happiness. Identify that for yourself, and allow the notion of it to flourish.
At the end of the year, many people become emotional and reflective. Yes, it is good to think about your life and your choices. It is also important to count your blessings and to actively choose to be grateful for all of the blessings in your life. When I proclaim that, I mean it for every single one of you. Recognizing that you have power in your own choices can help you through this time of year.
For those who are Christian, think about the meaning of this holiday, the time when Jesus was born. The birth story of Christ is one of mystery. This great being was born in a manger because there was “no room at the inn.” Despite poverty and hardship, he came into the world and led a movement that would change it forever.
Do you have the ability to look at your life and choose to hold onto the good things, even if you are experiencing difficulties, sadness or other friction? Do you think you can choose to live in the moment and claim whatever happiness is waiting there for you? Can you be your own radical thinker and decide to be positive and hopeful no matter what?
I believe that it is possible to seek happiness in a proactive way. How? When you find yourself in the company of family and friends, choose to notice the good things about each person. Resist the temptation to pick at your loved ones. Point out something noteworthy about each person that you can celebrate. It can be something superficial, like how the person looks. You can acknowledge a student for doing a great job this semester. You can compliment the cook. Rejoice at seeing people you have missed over the past year. The point here is to identify something to celebrate about others and about yourself -- and say it out loud.
For your part, if you don’t want to talk too much about yourself, choose a couple of things you can willingly say, and then pivot. Pick safe topics that you can insert in the conversation that will not lead to a probe. Because most people like to talk about themselves, you can get the attention off of yourself quickly if you ask a lot of questions. This, in turn, will protect your privacy, but do your best not to hide. Claim something positive about your life, and say it out loud. It doesn’t have to be earth-shattering, but it should be true. When you choose joy, you welcome others to do the same. And at the end of the day, you may just feel the happiness that you seek.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to email@example.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)