What if you infuse your holiday experience with expressing your “kindfulness?” By that I mean, what if you integrate kindness and mindfulness into how you approach the coming holidays? Are you intrigued to learn more?
Here are four simple steps to your first “kindful” holiday season.
Step 1. A bit of breath goes a long way
First things first: Remember to breathe. Without breath we cease to exist. Have you ever noticed that our tolerance for the “hassles” of life seem to be directly proportionate to our oxygen intake? It’s true.
Really think about it and be honest. Remember the last time you “lost it” with someone…was your breath impacted by your emotional state? Of course it was. Losing our temper, being defensive or angry is guaranteed to change our rate of breath.
We can all recall our highest highs and our lowest lows being triggered by the holidays. You can always count on loved ones intentionally or unintentionally pushing our “buttons.” As soon as an inevitable stressful moment presents itself, pause.
Take a deep, slow breath and count to three before exhaling. Next, ask yourself if you are ready to respond from a calm state of mind. If “yes,” then proceed and respond. If not, repeat the breath sequence as many times as needed to achieve the state of mind that you seek.
Step 2. Being present is the best gift to give your loved ones
We don’t do anything without some sort of pay-off in our minds as the catalyst. Be kind to you and to your family. Create the space to have a new dynamic.
Your holiday experience will give you back as much as you give to it. If you are someone who is usually late to family get-togethers don’t set-up your loved ones to gripe at you once again. Instead, take accountability for you and your actions.
For instance in the example above, a “kindful” approach to your punctuality issue is to ask your inner self why being on time is a challenge for you. In other words, try and look at your resistance to it. The key to this introspective journey is to pose the query and to listen to your answer(s) without preconceived judgment.
Perhaps you associate being on time with surrendering your control to another’s whims or demands. Or maybe you resent your family’s value of punctuality and “rebel” by being late.
Whatever reason surfaces, look upon past choice with kindness and compassion.
Journaling might be a great tool to add to your inner journey. Meditation might also help to clarify your motivations. Remember, the greatest challenge is to restrain any harsh judgment and to instead brainstorm possible alternative actions.
The process described above might take an hour, a day, a month or years. Like so many lessons in life, the value is in the journey not the immediate arrival at the conclusion. Take your time and be present with your process; don’t focus on the metrics of your progress.
Step 3.Your time is an always-appreciating asset
Have you ever noticed that the only thing that seems to appreciate in value consistently is your time? Think about it. Everything else depreciates eventually except the priceless asset of quality time.
That being said, we grow increasingly picky about how, to whom and to what we allocate our time. The holidays call upon us to choose “kindfully” who receives our attention and focus. Bountiful invites to festive dinners, delectable brunches and themed parties flood our inboxes.
Add in the “duty/privilege” of spending time with your loved ones and family and your time quickly becomes a scarce resource. So, what to do? Relax, remember the Step 1 above and take a breath.
Next, create a folder in your email Inbox for “Holiday Invites.” Every Sunday during the “Holiday Season” print the contents of the folder.
Examine each invite and rank them in priority on 1-10 basis (1, low priority; 10-highest priority) Once sorted by the assigned value, remove any invite lower than a “7,” add the remaining invites to your calendar and RSVP to your host(s).
Repeat this process each week. The goal is to maximize the value of your time and to create meaningful memories with those that matter the most to you. Be mindful of your preferences and be kind to your hosts by showing-up out of choice and not just obligation.
Step 4. Be lighthearted in all that you do
Why so serious? Sure the holidays can carry many sentimental implications, but when it comes down to it, isn’t it all about expressing joy? We are grateful for the opportunity to celebrate our traditions with our loved ones.
Gratitude in its purest form is jubilance.
“Kindfully” approaching the holiday season means to be lighthearted and rediscover and reawaken the inner “twirl” in each of us.Remember as a child how you would spin around in endless circles and laugh hysterically as you tripped and stumbled after completing your final rotation?
Allow the holidays to usher in the spirit of wonder and whimsy into your mindset. Suspend the seriousness. Most of all don’t take yourself or anyone else in your inner circle too seriously.
If your grandma asks why you are still in a “dead-end” job, try and hear the love in the question. Assume that she has your best interests at heart. Rather than hear her query as an attack, laugh and give her a gentle kiss on the cheek saying, “Oh grandma, what would I do without your kind observations? Thank you for looking out for me. I love you.”
The only reason we feel a need to defend is if we feel attacked. Don’t give away your inner peace and holiday happiness to anyone’s observations or seeming judgments. Be lighthearted and you will be amazed how “kindful” you can be even in the face of challenging family dynamics.
Incorporating these four steps into your life paves the way for extending and experiencing more “kindful” moments. Choosing to be mindful of sharing kindness brings back the joy of the holidays: You cannot share something without also experiencing it for yourself.
The holidays present the gentle reminder that we are all in this together…Bottom line: We always have the time to be kind.
What step mentioned seems most challenging to you? Why do you believe this is true for you?
Let’s continue the conversation. Please feel free to share your thoughts. All expressions of “kindfulness” are welcome here.
This post originally appeared on LinkedIn