Happiness During the Holidays
By: Dr. Kathleen Costello
It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Though the holidays can be a magical time of year, they can also be wrought with stress. Sometimes the pressure to feel joy and happiness during this time of year can create a burden when we feel anything but. We may hope the tinsel, carols, and gifts we receive will be the antidote to our holiday stress, but often they fall short. It may sound cliché that happiness is an inside job, but it’s mostly true.
There are many external factors that help, and as positive psychology reveals, there are also internal factors that reap huge benefits. Here are three positive psychology tools to increase happiness during the holidays: acts of kindness, gratitude, and focusing on resilience. Acts of kindness include finding small ways to be kind. It could be as simple as holding doors for people and maybe even wishing them happy holidays. You could buy food for a local food pantry or offer to grab your co-worker a latte on your run to your favorite coffee shop. The extra step is to focus on the feeling you get doing these kind acts.
Gratitude is powerful! There are many ways to practice gratitude. An easy way is to reflect on three things you are grateful for. During the busy holiday season, you can do this in a long shopping line or if you’re stuck in holiday traffic. Turn potentially stressful situations into an opportunity to increase your happiness or at least normalize your mood. Lastly, focus on resilience. The holidays can create tough situations, whether their difficult family dynamics, budget challenges, or loneliness. To help combat these challenges, reflect on past situations you navigated. We have all overcome many things in our past, and reflecting on resilience, can energize us to meet tough situations with more pep. These may seem like simplistic tools, but positive psychology research shows that they increase happiness if practiced regularly. What better time to put acts of kindness, gratitude, and resilience into practice than during the holiday season?