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Choose Joy.

Having Joy & Being Happy: What is the difference? 

Do you ever find yourself stuck in traffic and tired of the same old playlist? Podcasts are a great way to switch things up, especially if you have a long commute. Recently, my family and I traveled out to the Mid-West to visit family. On the way home, we listened to a podcast that talked about the difference between having joy and being happy. It was such a great discussion that I thought I would share it with you today. (The word “JOY” also reminds me of the holiday season and it is a snowy December day here in Pennsylvania.)

So what is the difference between happiness and choosing joy?

Being happy is a temporary state of being. Sure, it feels good to be happy, though happiness is not always something that we can choose– especially when life gets us down. Happiness, as a feeling, is also not based on something necessarily being good for us.

Joy, on the other hand, is at least grounded in the idea that something is good for someone else. We have joy when — even in our pain/suffering — we are acting toward someone else’s well-being. If you have ever selflessly given of yourself or that which you own– you are certainly familiar with this feeling.

Now think, if all of our efforts are focused on trying to be happy — I think that we may be missing the point of life. But if our purpose is to have joy in our lives then we have committed to one another in a way that seeks something better than simple self-satisfaction.

So let me ask you this: What are you doing in the world that is causing you joy?

If you can’t answer that question, then make it your goal for the rest of the month of December to choose joy.

But, how?

Try putting yourself out there and doing something good for someone else (and also try to be humble about it- do it for the other person, not for others to see you doing something selfless and give you likes and attention) — and feel what happens.

Write the following quote down on that dry erase board on the fridge, on a sticky note above your coffee pot, on your palm, make it the background on your smart phone or laptop— put it somewhere. Read it every morning. In the spirit of the holiday season, choose joy by finding ways to be happy even when things don’t go your way.

In Strength,

Rose

Choosing joy means: Finding ways to be happy even when things don’t go your way.

10 Holiday Stress Busters

As a young child, I remember experiencing the magic of the holiday season. Sure, there were disagreements and stressful situations that I watched my family wade through year after year, though I don’t remember those times as clearly as I do the happy moments. I remember great food, fun, and spending time with loved ones. (I also remember the year I received my first mountain bike and a set of hit stix.)

Things certainly do change as we get older, don’t they? Long lines, family drama, loneliness, a long list of expenses, and stress too often replace the memories of childhood magic.

What if you could get back some of that magic? Check out these 10 ways to take the stress out of the holidays.

Rose Skeeters

1. Budget for the Holidays.

Overspending during the holidays not only stresses you out while you’re doing it, but continues into the future when the credit card and bank statements arrive in January. Make a realistic budget early, carefully review it, and then stick to it!

2. Plan Holiday Activities.

Double-booking activities on the same day can result in frustrated family members and lost opportunities. Avoid this stress by planning and discussing with the family beforehand. Also, decide what’s important, prioritize, and say “no” to what you can’t handle.

3. Work in Some Alone Time.

Do not choreograph, plot, and plan out every hour of the holidays. Factor in some alone time for the sake of your mental health. Close your eyes, take several deep breaths, and meditate or just relax.

4. Be Open to Change.

Talk with your kids about your traditions- which ones they love and which you might evolve. This is especially important when family dynamics have changed. Don’t be too rigid. Use common sense and accept changes to the original plan.

5. Delegate.

To stay sane and reduce stress, delegate holiday tasks to friends and family members. You don’t have to do it all yourself. Delegate first, and then follow-up for extra peace of mind.

6. Prep Your Kids.

Factoring in kids’ limitations when you make plans will reduce stress on everyone. Not overestimating your kids’ patience and ability to focus will help you enjoy yourself more too. Holidays represent a change in a family’s normal schedule, and for some kids, that’s unsettling. Preparing them for these changes will help head off meltdowns.

7. Wrap & Ship Early.

Last-minute gifts can bust your budget and your sanity! Plan your shopping and avoid doing anything impulsively. Wrap everything as soon as it is purchased and ship gifts to loved ones far in advance.

8. Be Sure to Laugh.

Kids pick up their parents’ stress and tension. Have of sense of humor, enjoy your kids for who they are, and keep in mind that what you’ll all remember is likely to be the unexpected moment when everybody was relaxed, not the brilliantly choreographed events.

9. Volunteer.

Take time to volunteer at your church, homeless shelter, or community center with your family and friends. Model being a bucket filler this season.

10. Exercise Regularly.

Everyone does their best to trash their bodies during the holiday season. We eat way too much rich and fatty foods, and often drink too much. The best thing to do about the unavoidable overindulgence is to exercise regularly.

Following these 10 tips will help ease the stress of the holiday season so that you can reclaim the magic of the season this year. Download our FREE Infographic below. Looking for more support this season? Schedule an intake now.

Home for the Holidays

3 Key Steps to Connect with Family (especially during the holidays) 

In order to connect more deeply with family over the holidays, it’s important to figure out how to respect them as people in the world. After all, everyone is trying to do the best they can with what they have, right?

My Italian family from Philly set the standard for holiday traditions– lots of delicious food, great company, suffocating blankets of guilt, good family drama, and excessive, over-the-top gifting. We always had waaaayy too much of EVERYTHING. (Parents, if you think your children would somehow be emotionally scarred for having just a few meaningful gifts, think again. The more gifts we got, the less the intention of gifting mattered and the more we expected those gifts…)  Holidays were intense all around– intensely joyful and just plain old intense.

When we grew up, they became more intense than joyful, especially before having children. Unspoken rules about gifts and competition for the best gift given, arguing and belittling the “chef” of the holiday for having a menu that was “subpar”, showing up late and leaving early only after complaining the whole time, and my all-time favorite: instead of saying hello, our family loves to say: “Look who showed up. You never come see me.” That one always gets me scratching my head and wondering if I slept through their visits or phone calls to our house… 

Jokes aside, the holidays don’t have to be that way– even if no one else in your family will change, you can choose to make this holiday season into the best one yet by following these 3 expert steps on how to connect with family during the holiday season. 

STEP 1. MAKE A LIST OF WHAT EACH PERSON IN YOUR FAMILY IS CAPABLE OF.

The first thing that you need to do to start on the path of dealing with and respecting your family members is to figure out what each individual person in your family is actually capable of. Make a list for everyone individually. Furthermore, break down all of the behaviors that they get engage in–both good and bad.  Do they show up late? Leave early? Do they make judgmental or hurtful comments? Maybe they make the world’s best stuffed mushrooms or bring the best desserts? Write it down.

STEP 2. WRITE DOWN THE EXPECTATIONS YOU HAVE FOR EACH FAMILY MEMBER.

Put the first list aside. Now, make a list of everything that you expect of each person in your family. What are all the things that you wish they would do and they haven’t? What are all the things that you expect from them? Maybe you feel like your expectations are already low? Do you wish the family member would be kind, show up on time, and still bring those delicious desserts? Write it all down. Remember that you will need to do each step for each individual family member.

STEP 3. COMPARE THE LISTS YOU MADE IN STEPS 1 & 2

Finally, put both list 2 and list 1 side by side. Do you notice any similarities or differences? What do you see?

Let’s say your lists looked like these:

Uncle Boomer’s Capabilties

  • always late
  • leaves early
  • funniest Uncle
  • makes rude comments at times
  • makes the best lasagna
  • loves the holidays
  • says no one ever visits him

My Expectations for Uncle Boomer

  • be on time
  • be nice
  • bring lasagna
  • connect with others
  • stop being passive aggressive

Did you notice that my expectations for Uncle Boomer exceed his capabilities in several areas? Uncle Boomer has been late to almost every function for as long as I can remember. Expecting him to be on time doesn’t make any sense. If your Uncle hasn’t been on time in years, why would he be on time this Thanksgiving? As a result of his choice, you can also choose to accept that Uncle Boomer will be late and that that is okay because it is his choice, not a reflection of his entire relationship with you.

It seems reasonable to expect family to be nice to each other, right? But what if your family members are insecure in some areas of their life and have a difficult time connecting genuinely to others? What if Uncle Boomer doesn’t perceive his comments to be rude and thinks they are funny? Does anyone smile when he says things? Put yourself in the person’s shoes. Do they see the world exactly as you do? Are you assuming that they do? Expecting someone that you claim to love to be someone that they are not is not fair. It will only create resentment and disrespect between both parties in the relationship. If you wish to be respected, it is a good idea to respect others too. This means putting yourself in their shoes and choosing to see the world from their point-of-view.

Every single person has valleys and dark times just like yours. Above all, respecting others for who they have become and loving them even when they can’t meet your expectations is the right thing to do.

Rose Skeeters

Not an Excuse for Rude Behavior…

This doesn’t mean letting a family member treat you poorly. It means not being surprised when Uncle Boomer makes a rude comment and hurts your feelings AND it means letting him know that what he said was mean. Tell the truth and set boundaries. Choose to take control of your own life experience this holiday season. In order to build better relationships and deeper connections with people, especially members of your family that you currently consider difficult or toxic, you must be willing to see the world from their perspective – to have empathy for them.

Following these tips will improve your experience dramatically this year, guaranteed. Need more help? Let’s schedule a time to chat.