Thursday, December 15, 2011

Tis the Season to be Peaceful

The holiday season can be a wondrous menagerie of parties, gifts, culinary delicacies and glittering decorations. On the other hand, it can be a reminder of loss, loneliness, illness and financial woes. Aren't I a downer? Possibly, but it's true.

It can be annoying when people go around telling you to be merry and happy just because it's December when all you want to do is go into hibernation with the bears. I can recall a Christmas when my life was in the dumpster and the seasonal pressure to be joyful made things so much worse. What did I do? I stepped back from the holiday hoopala and gave myself the gift of peaceful reflection. I made time to meditate, took long walks, read books and cried. I spent less money and made up excuses not to attend parties. What was the result? A cleansing calm feeling and a sense of control in my life.

I'm pretty indifferent about Brad Pitt, but I really did like something he said this year, which is, "I think happiness is overrated, truthfully. I do. I think sometimes you're happy, sometimes you're not. There's too much pressure to be happy. I don't know. I know I will be at times and I know I won't be at times. Satisfied, at peace, those would be more goals for myself."

On my difficult Christmas (and I'm pretty sure, if we live long enough, we'll all have one) I wasn't happy, but I was at peace. I let myself grieve. Although sad, I felt satisfied -- and from there I was able to move forward. Along those same lines, Scott Peck starts The Road Less Traveled (which spent 694 weeks on the NY Times Bestseller List) with, "Life is hard. This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths. It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it.  Once we truly know that life is difficult - once we truly understand and accept it - then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters."

It's sort of like, life is hard. I know it and I'm going to deal with it. When the hard comes along I'll accept it and that is where peace comes from. So if you're feeling lonely or depressed or lost this December, know you're not alone. It's all part of living on the planet Earth. No one can escape it. It's okay to step back from the merriment. Kick back, embrace your melancholy and know that a better day is on the way. 

Remember holiday celebrations are not prescribed. If you're into it, go for the festivity -- I know I am this year. But if you're not, shrug your shoulders and tell yourself  it's okay because it really is.

This week we'll look at ways to bring peace into the holiday season whether we're feeling happy or sad.

Kick Back Song of the Week:

Here Comes the Sun by the George Harrison. The earth's star may not always be visible, but it is always there. We can count on that even when it's hidden behind a cloud.   

Kick Back Book of the Week:

Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl. Frankl was a psychiatrist and a Jew who was imprisoned in the death camps of Nazi Germany. His parents, brother and wife died in the camps or were sent to the gas ovens. Although he suffered extreme torture, he discovered what he refers to as, "the last of human freedoms." He could decide within himself how all of what was happening was going to affect him. He chose to keep his basic identity intact. Although I don't imagine he was happy, he found peace. 

No one can say it better than Viktor Frankl himself. Here he is speaking about how to overcome suffering in 2009.  

A Little Something Extra:

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