Whatever you feel about Christmas and whatever your religious, spiritual or philosophical perspective, it is as good a time as any to practice joy!
I was teaching the final weekend of the Level 3: Responding with Compassion course (click here) last weekend and one of the themes that emerged was that it was much easier to be kind and compassionate to ourselves and others when our joy levels are topped up.
There is space for joy in even the most difficult of times – taking joy in a hot cup of tea, a sunny day or a smile from a stranger.
Make Christmas a time for taking all the opportunities that present themselves for random acts of kindness. Spare a smile for the mothers with young (and not so young) children, harassed in the Christmas supermarket queues. Let people in with a smile and a wave to the Christmas traffic jams and give generously with a good heart whatever presents, cooked dinners and time you can to those around you.
Also, allow those around you to be kind to you, let them spoil you and let them treat you – you deserve it!
Practice forgiveness and tolerance and at least have the intention of letting go of past resentments towards people you are sharing your time with. So when your teenager/husband/parent plonks dirty plates in the kitchen minutes after you have finished clearing up the carnage from the last family meal, take a breath and ask politely if they could put it in the dishwasher, rather than losing it! When your uncle, who drives you mad by cheating at monopoly, suggests a game, go ahead, remembering that it is the taking part and not the winning that counts.
Practice gratitude by bringing to mind five things you are grateful for each morning. Then, when the Christmas nut roast is burnt, rejoice that the Chestnut stuffing turned out perfect. When you open your fifth Christmas present of bubble bath, when you wanted body butter, rejoice at how clean you are going to be in the new year (and go get some body butter in the sales). When you are reaching the end of a 12 hour day of constant entertaining, rejoice that you can go on the new MA website www.mindfulnessassociation.net and be guided through a delightful three stage breathing space at the click of a button.
Reflect back over each day of festivities and go over the good moments, remembering what happened and how you felt, taking time to smile and be happy.
There is no need to take ourselves so seriously or hold our preferences and expectations so tightly. Take it moment by moment, let go and see what unfolds!
I wish you all a peaceful and joyful Christmas and a flourishing new year, full of Mindfulness, Kindness and Joy!
To see a video about a new Everyday Joy Time practice, please click here. To listen to a guided audio of the practice, please visit www.mindfulnessassociation.net and click on the Everyday Joy Time button. If you find this daily life practice useful, checkout our online course ‘The Wonder of the Everyday’ starting in January (click here).