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Top 10 Ways to be Happier This Holiday Season

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During the end-of-the-year holidays, we frequently wish each other a “Merry Christmas,” “Happy Chanukah,” or “Happy Holiday.” Yet this time of year often gets so taxing, with preparing elaborate meals, hosting—or traveling to—friends and family, as well as gift getting and giving, that we forget that this is supposed to be a joyous time of the year.

In spite of all the holiday hubbub, it is possible to put stress in the background and be happier during the year-end festivities. Below are ten simple but powerful ways you can do that.

  1. When you wake up in the morning, set the tone you want for your day. Set your intention and affirm that no matter what happens, no matter how bad traffic is, or how long the lines at the store are, or how much work has piled up at the office, you will not let it get to you.
  2. Keep an “I’m-gonna-be-happy-no-matter-what” reminder easily accessible at all times. For example, put a marble, or some other small object in a frequently used pocket. Every time you reach in that pocket and touch that thing, it will remind you to lighten up.
  3. Appreciate all that you have in your life. Celebrate the fact that you have friends and family for whom you can buy gifts, for co-workers for whom you can bake cookies, or an extra dollar or two you can give to a homeless person.
  4. Substitute a down situation with an upbeat one. Think about at least three things that brought you joy in the last few days. Perhaps, a great bargain when you were shopping. Or getting a card from a distant friend. Or receiving an unexpected thank you from your spouse, child or co-worker. When things get in the way of your happiness, concentrate on one of those joyful moments instead of the upsetting one.
  5. If you are angry, give yourself a set amount of time to be upset and then give it up and move on. Grumble, grouse and gnash your teeth for five or 10 minutes…then, like a light switch, turn it off and go back to your happiness intention.
  6. Embrace whatever is given to you. In Buddhist thinking, suffering comes from non-acceptance. Accept what you have. Stop resisting, and start enjoying what you have right now.
  7. Before you get on that crowded bus or go into that jammed packed department store, stop and take a few slow deep breathes. It will calm you down and help you stay centered. Or take a break at a quiet, off-the-beaten path tea/coffee shop or nearby park.
  8. Be around children. Young kids find happiness everywhere. Observe them at play and some of that might rub off on you.
  9. Don’t forget your sense of humor. A little laughter can change your perspective and lift your spirits. Look for something funny in your stressful situation. Often just searching for the funny will put a smile on your face.
  10. Choose happy. The next time someone or something pushes your buttons or makes you angry, ask yourself one simple question: “Do I want to be right or do I want to be happy?” If you choose the latter, chances are you will be.
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