We all have a little Scrooge in us. (Come on, don’t deny it.) Sure, we say we love the holidays but the pressure is intense and the need to retreat to a remote desert island and drink bottomless pina coladas is great.
Both birthdays and holidays carry a lot of psychic weight. Expectations abound, memories from the past can rise up and bite you on the ass, and old, stale family dynamics can make it a complicated time.
But guess what? We have answers! That’s right. We just made your holidays merrier and your birthdays brighter.
- Rely on yourself for the best plan. The biggest problem with most holidays and birthdays is the weight we put on others to make it memorable. Expectations can be slippery slopes. If people step up to the plate, great. But if not, we feel disappointed.
Try this out: Imagine no one existed on the entire planet. It’s only you, wandering the earth. How would you celebrate your birthday? What offerings would you give yourself? Then start your actual birthday or holiday by doing one or two of those kind, self-loving acts.
- Roll with the punches. It’s imperative not to be a control freak when it comes to those special days. Because life is immensely unplannable. It rains, you get into a fender bender, your throat hurts and the dog just pooped on the carpet—all these things can happen and then some.
So start the day with an attitude that says, “Yeah whatever…I’ll roll with it.” Ask yourself first thing in the morning to be more accommodating and Zen-like and you’ll find the day flows more easily. #findyourinnerhippie
- Spend time with the past. One of the reasons holidays can be particularly hard for many is that they’re often loaded with memories. People have died or moved on, locations change and there’s a deep, existential knowledge that you can never go back. And that’s okay. But allow yourself some time to be melancholy. Let yourself shed a tear or 50. It’s all right to miss your past lives. And by allowing yourself this reflection time, you free yourself up emotionally for new experiences.
- Truly celebrate the best of you. We spend much of our lives in a state of mild (or serious) self-recrimination. We scold ourselves for a myriad of “missteps.” Think of your birthday or a holiday as a time to celebrate the best that you have to offer. Detail in a list what you like about yourself. Write out the ways in which you changed in the past year for the better. Thank yourself, truly thank yourself, for your gifts to the world.
- Keep it simple and sane. Because holidays and birthdays can be emotionally intense, do your best to simplify. Overdoing can lead to feelings of disconnection, where you’re just speed-walking through the motions. Do your best to plan ahead and make sure the plans remain simple.
Remember this: a winning holiday or birthday can be very basic. It might include a walk in the woods, a meal with a friend and a good movie. It may include some downtime where you curl up with a good book and a cup of tea. Allow yourself to simplify. Your psyche will thank you for it.
Listen, holidays and birthdays are not for the meek at heart. They can be emotionally evocative and tough to navigate. They can also be sweet, life-affirming and celebratory. The more you can sit with the paradox of it all, the happier those life events will be.