December

17

2009

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The 9 Stressors Leading to the Holiday Blues

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I would first like to start by wishing everyone a Happy Holiday. I was recently in a conversation with someone, and they began complaining about the holiday season because they are forced to spend time with their in-laws, shop for gifts, run errands, and the list went on and on. These frustrations left me somewhat puzzled because I experience an incredible sense of excitement when the holiday buzz is in the air. Personally, I do not think that we should celebrate on specific days for the purposes of tradition, but rather, express our thanks, love, and pleasure for the people in our world on a regular basis. But this is not the intent of this blog post, and instead, I would like to discuss the stress associated with the holidays and how all of us have the ability to experience enjoyment versus the magnitude of tension that enters our world.

The holidays are meant to provide us with time to be with our family, friends, and ourselves. We may receive recognition, gifts, and love, and I personally do not know what is better than these acknowledgments. But with all of this being said, we often do not provide ourselves with the opportunity to enjoy the moment, experience the emotions, and just let loose.

What I have found is that many people associate the holidays with pressure, and even a greater number of people yearn to get back to their “normal” routine because their working life is far “simpler” and less hectic than their holiday life. Does this mean that you are just so enthusiastic about your career that you desire to return to the workplace; or, does this mean that time with the family leads to feelings of pressure? I believe that the “holiday blues,” will potentially be on the rise this year, as a result of the extreme financial setbacks people are experiencing which could exacerbate an already “stressful” time. But does it truly have to be that way?

holiday blues 2What if you were able to re-associate the holidays and grant yourself permission to enjoy each moment while eliminating the strain that you once felt?

After many conversations, and taking time to analyze this debacle, I believe that I understand why the holidays lead to incongruent emotions. As the month of December approaches, the anticipation of enjoyment and high-level expectations lead to inflated levels of pressure, making it almost impossible to truly take pleasure in the holidays.

Let’s assume that there is a continuum in your life during the holiday season where one extreme is stress and the other is enjoyment.  With each event that takes place during this time period, you will either be heading in the direction of your choice, or the direction that is undesirable. With this being the case, I am going to provide you with a strategy that I have used in the past called Re-association, which enables you to take the negative stress from your past and shift your perspective in order to enjoy the present moment.

I decided that the best way to begin this exercise is to ask people about stressors they experience during this time of year through various discussions on Linkedin. I am confident that these 9 areas comprise the main components of stress in your life, but if there is a challenge that you are facing that I have not addressed, please contact me via the ASK JARED section or just leave a comment, and I will work with you to overcome this barrier.

1. In-Lawsmother-in-law-from-hell

Without your in-laws, you would not have the fortune of being married to the love of your life. Without your in-laws,you would not have the pleasure of having children. Although they might be difficult, remind yourself that these people have enabled you to have a family and experience love, which are two of the fundamental principles in life.

2. Shopping

Shop within your means because there are no gifts that will ever surpass the value of your love that you provide to the people in your world. If you do not have anyone to shop for, I encourage you to purchase a small gift for someone you know who is in need because the act of giving will bring incredible joy to your world.

3. Parties

Realize how fortunate you are to be invited to these parties. Recognize how wonderful it feels to laugh with your friends and family. Appreciate how incredible it is to watch the people in your world smile while attending these gatherings.

pie4. Food Choices

How liberating will it feel to experience self control this year? Once again, start with the end in mind and pretend like it is January 4th 2010,  because this is usually the time when people begin to get sick due to their poor choices. This year, you can choose not to join this group, and instead, re-associate your food choices and control these urges.

5. Errands

Just go with the flow. Whether you are running around with your spouse, children, parents, friends, etc., feel fortunate to have these people in your world. Make the best of the situation by telling jokes, reminiscing, or simply just holding hands!

6. Preparation

You will need to prepare for the festivities, but at the same time, start with the end in mind, and picture everyone smiling from ear to ear because the holiday time is here. There should be no pressure as the only person judging you is yourself, and since you have committed to the re-association process, you will realize that the only thing that matters are the little things that bring you love and joy.

7. Competition

“WHAT IS THE POINT?” When we allow ourselves to begin the comparison game, regardless of when it happens, we will always lose. The holiday season is not a competition, rather a time to simply enjoy yourself. Forget about what you did last year, forget about who gives or receives the best gifts, and forget about whether or not the food meets the standard of everyone at your party. These are all surface level insecurities, whereas the holidays are the time to enjoy the little things in life.

8. Loneliness

This is stressor that often surfaces with a single parent, widow or widower, abandoned child, etc. Although this is going to epitomize the P.O.P (POWER OR PERSPECTIVE) mentality, I encourage anyone who deals with this stress to get outside your comfort zone, and stop wallowing in your own misery. Visit an orphanage, senior center, friend’s house, singles party, shelter, etc. Giving for the sake of giving will enable you to feel like you have contributed in a positive way and etched a mark in someone’s life. If you step outside your world, and your suffering, you may just discover the immense power you have to change someone else’s life and make a huge difference in your own.

9. Blended Familiesfamily

Having come from a blended family, I know this often leads to stress, but does it have to? Feel abundant because you will may have the opportunity to celebrate, more than once, and enjoy the holiday season with several groups of people who love you more than the world.

I understand that the re-association process is something that sounds wonderful in theory, but might result in some difficulty when it comes to implementation. But what I encourage you to recognize is that the amount of stress you inflict upon yourself is YOUR CHOICE. You have the ability to make this year different than the past, rather than expecting the worst, and continuing with your old pre-programmed ways of thinking. Be a leader and empower those around you to shift their perspective, re-associate, and answer this question:

If the Holidays don’t bring you joy, than what does?


What does this mean to you? Please leave a comment.

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Dr. Charles DesJardins December 18, 2009 at 12:45 am

I will also post this on your blog. When I think of the term blues, it is a static term that in reality is a process of thinking and feeling, which is not static but is constantly changing. So because I cannot physically represent the word in the theater of my mind, I will treat is as an emotional state. So, all I can do is give the term blues my meaning. To me it means to be emoting a depressing thought. And even that is vague, but at least now it is an adjective. I also give the word blues the meaning of depressing and or disheartening, another adjective.
To me, both of these words are emoting states – states where one is emoting. Emoting is when the map does not match the territory. We feel this difference as an emotion. Emotions are not right or wrong, they are sign posts to the accuracy of our maps. When the territory is better than my map, I am joying. When the territory matches my map, I am feeling good, or feeling happy. When the territory is worse than my map, it is saddening, or depressing, or other negative states of emoting.
So the problem with the blues is not the blues, but the map. The map is created by our beliefs, values, interests, judgments, etc. This is an interesting subject because just today I had a discussion with someone about this and they kept using a cognitive distortion of – HAVE – I have to do this, I have to buy presents, I have to spend x amount of money, etc. And they were experiencing the state of the blues. This HAVE is a cognitive distortion and creates a disempowering state. It was this disempowering state and how it reflected their map of the holidays.
I had them change their language to WANT – even though at that moment they did not WANT to, they had to get their power back. Then we looked at values, when in their life did they get the value that they HAD to buy all these presents or spend all this money for the holidays? I was not challenging or trying to change the value, it’s their value, I was just trying to get them to find out where it came from and if it serves them. Now, this person worked from a meta-program that was externally referenced, they were enculturated. So, they kept the value and reframed the state and language from HAVE, to WANT, and finally, because they wanted that value, we change the language to GET TO – and that changed their state – and this state changed how they emoted and their kinesthetic.

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JY December 18, 2009 at 10:15 pm

AMAZING! I absolutely love how you shared this process because I know it will be beneficial for the entire audience. You are an excellent communicator which is why the people you work with are able to begin the process of change. Note, I said process, because that is exactly what you are providing them with, a system, a model, and a execution method in order to have a paradigm shift take place.

Thank you for contributing to this blog and I am EAGER to read your comments as we progress!

JY

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donna rowe December 18, 2009 at 2:41 pm

i am the director and case-manager of an agency who works with homeless youth and young adults in albuquerque new mexico called Youth in Transition. for almost 15 years (20 years with this population) at YIT it has always been a struggle. the young people we work with are unable to be served and have not succeeded in other programs because of the intensity and nature of thier problems. funding has always been barebones and at this time, though i continue my work, we have no resourses. we lost our last drop-in center in 2005 and have not been able to recoupe. i’m still trying. the kids we work with are not a “popular” population. we have always run into a “not in my neighborhood” attitude. about 90% of our clientelle have a diagnosed mental illness. the behaviors of young peoople, alone on the street, who are not well and who underserved come with a lot of challenging problems and behaviors: involvement in the criminal injustice system, disrespect from mental health (and lack of services) professionals, prostitution, addictions (a lot of dual diagnosed clientelle), unnecessary harrassment by citizens, NHAs, and the police. this holiday season just motivates me to do even more. most of these kids are not being served and i so badly want to be able to reach more, those that no one else wants to work with, those that have been “thrown-away”, are alone, cold, scared, hungry, ect. 2004 was the last time we were able (since we had the drop-in center at the time) that we were able to open on Thanksgiving and X-mas for Santa, and presents, and food, and warmth. hundreds of young people that had nothing, had a place to go, a place to belong, a “family” to be with on the holidays. so this holiday season, i will work with what we’ve got in an outreach capacity. i will take thier calls and see them if they need support. and i will continue to try to rebuild the agency so these young people will have thier “safe haven” back. and of course i haven’t forgotten how just a card, a letter to someone who is incarcerated, can really make a difference. i have two grown children that live out of town. i am one lucky mom. we’ll talk. don’t know yet if i’ll be able to travel and see them. i would like that. over the last 5 years, my health has been deteriorating and i am now on disability, so it is very important to spend as much time with my kids and with my street kids and to make sure, when i leave this world, there is a strong and beautiful, non-judgemental, patient, and loving agency to leave behind. i’m not really stressed. almost all the time, holidays or not (though you always wish you had more to give), i experience joy, satisfaction, and am rewared by the smile on someone’s face, the hug from someone who needed that, the phone call to a kid that made all the difference in the world (you can hear it), and the hope and belief that things can and will get better. i have 3 wonderful brothers (2 here), a great mom and dad, and a cat and a special needs dog who always make me feel blesssed. who are all supportive of my reason for being on this earth. so, though it s hard knowing my hands are often tied in being able to allieviate pain and and misery, i remain determined and persistent, and pretty much just “roll with the punches”, always (so far) just getting back up. everyone who’s reading this, have a great holiday season.

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JY December 18, 2009 at 10:07 pm

Donna…you are truly an inspiration and someone that I admire in more ways than I can even begin to explain. Your dedication, fortitude, and drive for inducing a paradigm shift is fascinating and I feel so fortunate that you have decided to JOIN BRANDENTITY!

Society has labeled success by the amount of money in your pocket, but I want you to know that I consider you to be one of the most successful people that I have come across as a result of your mission. You define giving for the sake of giving in order to create a better tomorrow for children who have nothing. But with this being said, I encourage you to start one process for yourself. Because the only way you will have the type of impact you desire for the people you influence on a daily basis, is if you first begin to influence yourself. Your health is of utmost importance in order for your mission to come to fruition. I am not sure what your exact circumstances consist of, but I encourage you to take some time to just BE. Go for a walk, enjoy nature, or find something that allows you to lose track of time. You deserve to feel as important about yourself as you allow the children you work with to feel about themselves.

Once again, thank you for sharing this heartfelt story and please feel free to share all of these messages with anyone who you think will benefit!

Have a wonderful holiday season because you DESERVE it!

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Lou Altman December 19, 2009 at 8:33 am

Jared,

Great article and great points. Here’s my take on it all:

The holidays are indeed a time of celebration. Whatever your religious beliefs, there is a story to tell, so tell it! Live into the meaning of the story by being joyful, no matter what you are doing. Simple enough to say but hard to practice? Not if you’ve been practicing all year. Here’s the deal on that:

* Find joy in something (many things?) DAILY!
* Joy that you are alive! (Everyone reading this post can do that)
* Joy about your spouse, kids, pets, home, car, life, breathing, workplace (joy that you are employed?)
* Celebrate the sun, the moon, the rain, the clouds the traffic, the dead grass on your lawn.
* Take comfort in the wind, the ocean, your kids’ argument, your business victories and losses.

Get the point? Everything (truly everything!) is worth celebrating, even failures and there are no failures, EVER as long as you learned something when things don’t work out as you originally wanted.

Imagine a world with no disappointments and think about the lost lessons. If everything went exactly as you wanted, what would you ever learn? How would you ever improve yourself?

If you practice joy and celebration daily, extending joy to the holidays and whatever stress you manifest (because nothing is anything until you make it so), becomes part of who you are.

And when you find joy in everything already, the holidays are just that much better.

Everyone have a great holiday and thank you Jared again for raising this topic.

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JY December 19, 2009 at 10:38 am

Lou…I love your interpretation and your incredibly positive outlook on life. I believe the underlying premise of what you are communicating is that it is critical to enjoy the “little things” of life, whether or not the result is what we desired. I often speak with people who fester in their own misery and only focus on what is “not going right,” in their world as opposed to all of the wonderful achievements which have taken place. This concept is one that is deep rooted in many of us because in grade school if you were to get an 89 on a test, you were considered a B+ student. If this individual was accustomed to achieving all A’s, then all that they would do is focus on the 11 questions they got wrong, as opposed to the 89 that they got right. In addition, these 11 questions would potentially create extreme negative energy as opposed to an opportunity for learning and growth.

Out life is no different and the holidays is a time to focus on all of the lessons we have been so fortunate to learn, spend time with the people we love, and anticipate the excitement of what lies ahead on our journey called LIFE!

Amazing contribution, welcome to BRANDENTITY, and I look forward to your comments as we progress…

Have an absolutely wonderful holiday season!

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Michelle Zelli December 22, 2009 at 7:42 am

Your post is like a breath of fresh air, thank you!

As a Life Coach and Change Management Consultant I listen to many people who have completely forgotten how to have joy and your posting puts it so simply!

I think you might be cheered to know that your posting added to the abundance of joy that I already focus on and the unabashed glee I feel when I meet a like minded soul!

Happy Christmas!

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JY December 23, 2009 at 12:33 am

WOW! This response means the world to me and I feel so fortunate that you have become part of the IDENTITY REVOLUTION. I would like you to feel free to share my work with anyone who you think would benefit and please have them subscribe so that they can receive all of the free resources as well. The world needs more people like you Michelle and I want you to know that you DESERVE to live the life of your DREAMS!!!!

Have the most wonderful holiday season!!!

JY

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Tina Lyon December 20, 2009 at 11:16 am

I celebrate each day as a holiday.. Each Day is a gift filled with surprise.

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JY December 20, 2009 at 9:46 pm

Tina..you have such an AMAZING attitude!!!! Keep on keeping on because the “who you are” is greatly benefiting the world! Have a wonderful and STRESS FREE holiday season!!!!

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IngoodCompany Coaching December 20, 2009 at 11:45 pm

I’ve not celebrated any holidays since the early 1970s. The reason was initially rooted in religious choices. However, over time I came to appreciate that abandoning the holidays was one of the best decisions I’ve made, roughly equivalent to shedding excess weight, or recovering from a substance dependency.

At one time I believed the myth that depression and suicides increased during the holiday seasons, particularly around Christmas. Turned out that myth was largely false, and has its roots in seasonal affective disorder. Nonetheless, the performance anxiety associated with the holidays is undeniable: Parents not wishing to disappoint children, relatives struggling to please a growing and far flung family, the January credit card bills, deciding which friend’s party to attend and which to decline, packing on extra pounds, the inevitable hangovers, fear of finding that lump of coal in a stocking, and more. No longer having to deal with that is quite a relief. But that’s not the best part.

What I have come to appreciate is that joy should be a constant state of being, never associated with an externally imposed date or schedule. Our emotions, sense of well being and peace of mind and heart simply do not work on some annual calendar-driven bio-rhythmic clock. We cannot genuinely turn it on and off based on when we imagine someone was born 2000 years ago, or when someone else decided it should be the year of the rat, or when the moon is in the seventh house.

We are each made with the capacity for experiencing joy with every sunrise and sunset, with every laugh of a child, with each well-prepared meal, and with every warm touch of a dear friend or loved one. It is within us to revel at a blue sky and each passing silvery cloud, or to marvel at the raw beauty of an ice-encased barren tree sparkling in the sunlight, or to thrill at a star-filled night sky, or to experience gratification in a personal accomplishment, There are no limits in an endless universe to our ability to take joy in the uniqueness of each passing moment, no matter where we are or what we may be doing.

I’ve learned that there are few bigger mistakes than setting our joy clock for December, and then afterward counting the days until the next official calendar block during which we’re granted some abstract social permission to give a small gift, express and experience joy, or gather with our families and bow our heads in gratitude for what we have, Rather than simply periodic joy, we paradoxically engage in ritual denial during the intervals between the all-too-short concentrated bursts of frenzied holiday merriment. Those who miss those holidays due to business obligations, accidents, financial limitations, illness or military service understand that let down and sense of missed opportunity. It doesn’t have to be that way.

Sans holidays of any kind, I’ve learned that joy need not be disbursed in lumpy intervals with sharp peaks and long deep valleys, but instead can be a continuous flow, if and when we choose to take it as it was meant to be. If we can open our eyes, minds and hearts to plug into the abundant sources of joy all around us, it will power us with a continuous flow of energy instead of the holiday surges that later run down and then have to be recharged on some artificially forced seasonal calendar basis.

Without doubt, the official holidays do provide some fairly universal, uniform and orderly scheduling for time away from secular pursuits. That’s great for business and commerce. It also provides what might otherwise be a challenge to obtain, an extended opportunity to engage with family and to be a bit more introspective about our roles, goals and ways to fill those holes in our souls.

However, I’ve come to understand that holiday seasons do not bring joy to people. People bring joy to holiday seasons, the same boundless joy we can bring to any day or time we choose. Break the habit. Plug in.

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JY December 21, 2009 at 11:34 am

First and foremost, this is exceptionally well written. I admire your ability to communicate how you truly feel while simultaneously making a decision regardless of the “norm” in society. There is one paragraph that I would like to emphasize because it captures the essence of “waiting” for a particular day to experience joy.

“We are each made with the capacity for experiencing joy with every sunrise and sunset, with every laugh of a child, with each well-prepared meal, and with every warm touch of a dear friend or loved one. It is within us to revel at a blue sky and each passing silvery cloud, or to marvel at the raw beauty of an ice-encased barren tree sparkling in the sunlight, or to thrill at a star-filled night sky, or to experience gratification in a personal accomplishment, There are no limits in an endless universe to our ability to take joy in the uniqueness of each passing moment, no matter where we are or what we may be doing.”

I have always stressed the importance of making everyday a holiday, where you express your love and admiration for the people in your world. Why do we feel the need to purchase flowers for a loved on only on Valentine’s Day? Why do we feel the need to say thank you to our friends on only their birthdays? And why do we wait to acknowledge our parents on Mother’s or Father’s Day? I was once told that if we express our love and thanks on a daily basis that it becomes insincere and loses its meaning. But I am here to adamantly state that this is not the case. People thrive on recognition and if we allow ourselves to make choices that are outside of the mainstream thought process, we would realize that EVERYDAY can and should be a HOLIDAY!

Thank you for your contribution, and although you do not celebrate holidays, I do hope that you have a wonderful remainder to your year!

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Dr. Charles DesJardins December 21, 2009 at 8:26 pm

Hello Rob – very interesting – I actually can see where you are coming from and agree with your basic premise. I also see that I could sacralize the Christmas holidays if I so chose as well. So, I guess it goes back to, at least for those who are internally driven, that they can live in any spirit they so choose, even a christmas or holiday spirit anytime they want to step into that state. Or they can use the holidays to turn up the juice and super charge the meaning and so enjoy it all the more. For me, its not to celebrate or to not celebrate, its what do I choose on that day or during that period to be important in my life – they are maps driven by my values and beliefs and as long as I manage them in an ecological way – I enjoy the freedom to choose, and I can see that you also enjoy that freedom, and to me, that is the most important thing of this discussion.

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JY December 21, 2009 at 10:03 pm

You made an incredible distinction Chuck because the most important thing in our discussion is the ability to “CHOOSE,” something that everyone possess, but unfortunately, not something that everyone embraces. Our freedom of choice enables all of us to celebrate the holidays however we so please; it enables us to love our partner in a way that feels right to us; it enables us to raise our children in way that is congruent with our beliefs; and this list could go on an on. But the choice that I hope everyone is able to make this week is to NOT allow the holiday season to bring stress into their lives, and instead, to celebrate in a way that brings meaning to their existence!

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Dr. Charles DesJardins December 21, 2009 at 10:20 pm

I think we do have the ability to choose, but the question of the century is, choosing between which options? Do we assume that all people have the same options of choice? The freedom to choose something is limited to the options of choice that are before us. Where do these options of choice come from? Why us of course, and when and where did they come to us? They came all throughout our lives, through our experiences which created our ways of thinking, our unique language and categories’ of understanding.

I believe that until we can inform people through the process of doing and being in a manner that they learn to fish, instead of giving them a fish, we will not leave the world in a much better place then we found it. It is when we can teach people how to fish (to teach them that choice of life is constrained by ones view of life) – therefore, choice is limited by virtue of the limits of their personal and social communication patterns. This new psychology, which is at the heart of self-actualization psychology, is an important aspect of a cultural revolution that I think is necessary for the next step in the development of the human species. So the next big question is, does your world (your map) allow you to make this CHOICE of this new psychology?

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Dr. Charles DesJardins December 21, 2009 at 10:21 pm

ps – I am going to add this to the self-actualization group-

JY December 21, 2009 at 10:48 pm

I am loving this discussion!

I believe that our ability to choose is based upon the values we establish in our lives. Therefore, when you ask which options, my response is anything and everything. I have always believed that our imaginations are not something that create dreams, but rather a technology that develops a reality when these thoughts are combined with action. But making these choices are outside of what one would consider to be “societal norms.” It often results in doing something that has never been done, where the outcome is based on your level of perseverance, dedication, and drive. Would you agree that our choices come from our ability to think in way that is not influenced by anything other than our value system (even though most would say that this is impossible)? I personally have an opinion as to where our choices are derived from, but this is a blog post in and or itself (which I WILL write and would be more than happy to entertain your thoughts as well).

I have always been a believer of teaching people to fish as opposed to giving them a fish because independence is equal and equivalent to freedom. When we are dependent upon someone other than ourselves we often feel out of control in our own existence. With this being said, I do believe that we are capable of forming synergistic relationships for the purposes of intimacy, friendships, business relations, etc. When this takes place, our combined efforts will create more fish than each individual trying to fish on their own..this is value creation!

I agree with your statement that “choice is limited by virtue of the limits of their personal and social communication patterns” and in response to your question about choosing to adopt this new psychology, I once again believe that if the new psychology is congruent with the value system of an individual, than it most certainly will be implemented into their thought process and way of life!

This is an amazing discussion!!!!!!!!

Caroline (The Netherlands) December 21, 2009 at 2:28 am

What every year causes a lot of stress around the holidays is the shopping that needs to be done. Normally, the shopping takes place in between all my activities. Around the Christmas holidays, I find it difficult to have time for this: to think about it, to go to all the shops, to decide what to eat, to find a match between easy and fancy meals, etc. To enjoy all the glorious blessings and the fact that I have wonderful things going on and to plan my time effectively and have time for myself too.

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JY December 21, 2009 at 11:38 am

Caroline…thank you for your honesty and transparency. This is a battle that many people face because of the pressure of purchasing a gift that will be approved by the receiver. Although the only solution to this dilemma is the one that makes you feel content, I think it is important to realize that there is not “THING” in the world that could ever replace having YOU in the person’s life as a result of your love, support, and authenticity!

Keep this in mind and try not to allow yourself to lose sight of all the incredible things that you do for the people in your world! Enjoy the holiday season because you DESERVE IT!

Thank you for your contributions and WELCOME to BRANDENTITY!

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Michelle Zelli December 22, 2009 at 7:44 am

Thanks for giving us the voice on your site.

Seasons Blessings

Michelle

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JY December 23, 2009 at 12:34 am

You will ALWAYS have the opportunity to share your voice….this is an open DOOR policy and you never know how far your interpretations will travel once they are on my blog…

Thank you for being you!

JY

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Mary Jane December 24, 2009 at 9:08 am

Jared thankyou for inviting me to post on your blog. It’s an interesting question that you raised on the NLP group site on Linkedin. Something we just seem to take for granted around this time is stress. Just two of the stressors: crowded stores and for many bad weather conditions that make travelling a nightmare. We often allow the expectations of others (including the advertising media) to dictate how we spend the holidays. And on top of this we create such high expectations of what the holidays should be like, that when things don’t go as we hope or want, we set ourselves up for disappointment. We truly have forgotten what the real meaning is surrounding the Christmas season. It has become in some ways a circus. Certainly for many it’s not a time for contemplation,reflection and gratefulness for all that we have.
I received this in an email from HeartMath Institute in the U.S. and I wanted to share this ‘cure’ also: “The holidays are a good time to renew your heart connection with people. Make that your focus and priority. Spend more time enjoying people and their holiday spirit and it can help rekindle your holiday spirit. A great way you can enjoy more of the holiday spirit is by keeping your focus on genuinely appreciating and caring for others. Ask yourself each morning, “Who can I show a little more appreciation to, or who can I express more genuine care for today?” It can be as simple as opening the door for someone or telling people that you appreciate them. Genuine gestures of care and appreciation are often remembered long after the holiday glitter is gone. You’ll find this is a fun gift for others and a big gift to yourself.”
– Excerpts from Tips To Prevent Holiday Stress And Avoid Faking The Holiday Spirit article, Huffington Post Dec. 2009 by Doc Childre and Deborah Rozman, Ph.D.

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JY December 24, 2009 at 1:30 pm

Mary…

Thank you for sharing this wonderful message from the HearMath Institute. I resonate with this concept in so many ways because I do believe that the holidays have been commercialized in such a way that the true meaning of love, connection, and gratitude has been lost. If we are conscious during the holidays we will have the opportunity to bring meaning to our world like never before because we will allow ourselves to reflect on what we are grateful for having in our lives. We will start to do the little things which will enable is to BE fulfilled and reach a place of complete and utter serenity. Whether we are celebrating the holidays with our family, friends, or even by ourselves, this should be our opportunity to feel grateful for what was was and yearn for what will be, while enjoying what is!!!!

Thank you so much for sharing and have an absolutely wonderful holiday…I know you will!

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Tom Flaten January 19, 2010 at 10:46 am

I’m no phsycologist, but I truely believe that by trying to live up to others’ imagined or unreasonable expectations, and thus failing to remember why we celebrate Christmas, let alone why we get up every single day in the first place, causes internal, if not cognitive conflict. This type of stress can never result in inner peace and calmness – a state that a conflicted spirit may never attain. The hype of the holiday season only serves to amplify these emotions in unsuspecting souls.

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David Goodman January 19, 2010 at 10:47 am

I agree with Tom. However, I would add to the ‘others’ expectations, our own expectations. My wife and I throw a number of parties over the holidays. We enjoy doing it, but always wind ourselves too tight in trying to make things too perfect, rather than following Tom’s message of focusing on inner peace and satisfaction.

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JY January 19, 2010 at 4:24 pm

Another point that needs to be addressed deals with the distinction between perfection and excellence. Perfection is a concept that is impossible to achieve because it is in the eyes of everyone other than yourself, while excellence is an internal happiness and the feeling of fulfillment. Strive for excellence and forget about perfection….

Thank you for your transparency David!

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JY January 19, 2010 at 4:22 pm

This definitely creates undue stress during a time that is intended to be joyous on all levels. We often set expectations, which happen to actually be the false expectations of others, leading to an inability to live in the now, while we worry about serving the needs of everyone but ourselves. I believe that if we become conscious of this cycle, then we can take the necessary steps to eliminate these stresses from our lives. If we do not take the time to let go of these pressures, then we will constantly be on edge as another stressful holiday passes us by…

The choice is in the hands of the beholder…

Great contribution Tom!

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alexander mcdonell January 20, 2010 at 2:18 am

Here’s what I would like to add:

If you don’t enjoy something that is ok. You don’t have to spend every moment high. In fact that is impossible. The only positive state of mind that it is possible to keep up all the time is peaceful contentment.

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JY January 20, 2010 at 9:33 pm

This is such profound advice because it eliminates the feelings of expectations. Life is about the ebbs and flows and in order to reach peaceful contentment we must accept this fundamental principle….

Thank you for bringing this to our attention!

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