Four Gifts To Combat Sadness This Christmas Season
It truly is a magical time of the year. It is magical in the way it seems to transform individuals—children and adults—to kinder, happier people. The effect that the Christmas season has on our mood, our attitude, is undoubtedly positive. We are nicer, more apt to laugh and play and party. We are quicker to share, to give, to be generous.
For some of us older adults, however, the Christmas season also means that our grief is heightened and our sadness deepened as we become more mindful of what we may have lost in the way of health, money, companionship, independence.
What can we do?
I recall my grandmother standing in front of a hot stove in the sweltering heat of summer cooking for my grandfather and seeming so happy doing it. When, as a child, I remarked that she was so happy cooking for Pa, she responded, “You have to make your own happiness.” I took her words to mean that cooking made her happy.
As I grew older, into my teens, and her response became a refrain each time I met her in the kitchen, I concluded that she cooked so she could be happy.
When I became an adult, I discovered that Grammy did not like to cook, and she liked it even less during summertime; but she did it nonetheless and found a way to be happy while doing so. I realized then what she had been trying to teach me all along, that happiness is a choice—a choice I can make.
Make Your Own Happiness
That brings us back to the magic of Christmas. Christmas is magical because it releases the gifts that empower us to “make our own happiness.” These gifts, given to humanity by its good Creator, can transform our mindset, strengthen the pillars of our health— physical, intellectual, emotional, social, spiritual, occupational and environmental—and, thereby, change our reality.
What’s unfortunate, however, is that it seems these gifts are coveted only during this time of year! After Christmas, they, seemingly, are discarded or packed away until the next year. But the key to making one’s own happiness year-round is to integrate these gifts into one’s life daily, year-round.
The Gifts of Christmas
The gifts of Christmas are Hope, Peace, Joy and Love. Familiar, yes. Powerful, absolutely!
Hope is the knowledge that the present will always give way to a future that is better. Unpleasant situations will not last. Life is designed to be lived on a positive trajectory. Armed with this knowledge, you can make positive decisions, behave in positive ways, engage in positive activities confident that you will bring about that better future through hope. As an early Christian apologist once wrote: “hope does not disappoint us”.
Peace is the knowledge that the present, while not under your control, is in the absolute best Hands and He is working out everything for your good and His glory. Therefore, you do not have to live in the future about which you are likely to worry nor in the past where there is regret, guilt, etc. Practice mindfulness: Live in the moment, knowing that you are in good Hands this season and every day.
Joy is the result of hope and peace being in one place at the same time: Assurance of a better future and contentment in the present. And, because joy is built on these solid gifts, your happiness—which is joy experienced in a variety of circumstances—does not have to be limited to good times or good events or good outcomes; you can make your own happiness. Whatever your circumstance, you can make your own happiness this season and every day. You have the gift and the Giver is ever near.
Love is the reason the good Creator gave us the gifts of hope, peace and joy. The reason itself is a gift, the greatest gift of all! Love is the big reveal! Love is perfect; love casts out fear, and love covers a multitude of offences. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, and it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres. Love never fails.
Love yourself. Thrive in the knowledge that you are loved by the One who gives the gifts. Gratitude and acceptance are a few self-expressions of love. Acceptance that flows from love is not a sign of resignation; it is the courage to deliberately engage any sadness, disappointment, any negative emotion with hope, in peace, in love.
Share your love. Appreciation for your life enables you to extend that love to others and to appreciate their life. Remember: Sadness shared is sadness halved; Love shared is love doubled.
What will you do this Christmas?
Christmastime is magical because, for this brief time, people embrace the powerful gifts of the season. If we make hope, peace, joy and love parts of our daily lives, this magic can be ours year-round.
You can make your own happiness not only this Christmas but year-round.
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