This year I would like to challenge you to become a conscious decision maker of your holiday experience. The upcoming weeks are loaded with tradition, hope and expectations. The result, if we are not mindful, can result in unnecessary emotional stress. Perhaps you are already on the holiday train but it’s not too late to take the time to reflect on the who, what and how of the coming weeks.

Over the last few weeks I have thought about the concept of minimalism and how I have applied it to my life without realizing it. Some of it is the result of a series of life decisions, when the space I had was not equal to the number of things I had. Practicality required me to make choices about what to keep and what to let go. Our holidays would benefit from the same reflection and decision-making.

Remove the rose colored glasses

One of the realities of truly creating the life you want to live, is by removing the rose-coloured glasses. Instead, see all the situations and people for who they are and where they fit into your life. Next, decide what it is that you value and what a successful holiday season would look and feel like. Take apart the traditions created over the years. Consider those people, places and things that actually fill you up, rather than deplete your emotional and perhaps financial, resources.

Circumstances and people’s lives change and this is the time to embrace those changes and be realistic about where you have control and where you don’t. What is it that you are trying to create for yourself and how do you achieve it? Again, consider the realities and your options, be willing to think outside of the holiday box. Here are some of the ideas that I have heard of late:

Thinking outside the holiday tradition box

University students, unable to return home over the holidays, create their own festive meal. Each brings their favourite dish to someone’s place and they enjoy experiencing being together while  sharing good food and conversation.

A single person joins the efforts of an acquaintance to host a meal for the local homeless people. He helps in the cooking and serving and spends the day meeting his needs and those of others.

Couples whose adult children live in other parts of the country, or world, come together and enjoy a meal.

Using technology to have some face time with those unable to join you.

Opting out of office gift giving and enjoying the other activities on offer.

An important part of the holiday season are the financial and material sides of decision-making. Many people are carrying large debt loads. You may be fine, but is everyone else? Minimalism gives the option of stepping away from the gifts and choosing to create experiences instead. If you limited or did away with gift giving, how would you spend your time? Rather than trudging through stores,  you could spend time creating a list of those things that you know and can teach. Or alternatively, those things that you would like to learn or experience. Time and experiences are two things that can enrich a life far beyond one more thing. Sharing the gift of learning, or taking the time for some fun, is a wonderful way to create lasting memories. The only room they take up are in your heart and your head.

Have the conversation

If your choices affect others, then you must have conversations about any changes you wish to make. By being clear about what you want and why, you are better able to stand your ground when you express your desire for change. Offer them the choice to be involved in making the changes and be open to some of their ideas. Be clear about what you want the result to be- emotional, financial, spiritual or any combination. If the change is resisted, then yes, you may in fact have to accept that your decision stands, regardless of their wishes. This is a part of becoming responsible for your own life.

The changes may not look or feel anything like the traditions of years gone by and that’s okay. You may find, that in the process of dismantling the old ways, you will find some new gems you wish to continue. Accepting what is, choosing what you want this season to be, and consciously creating it are powerful methods of having a satisfying holiday season and ultimately, life.

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