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I’ve been called The Grinch for so long that I haven’t even considered explaining why I do not like this time of the year.
Other than the childhood trauma that will always be linked to this time, I believe the fact that a lot of things happening during this period that make me so frustrated is behind my Grinchy attitude.
Since living mindfully has become a top priority in my life, I started to try my best to walk the talk, educate, and hope for the best.
I have noticed that a lot of people look happier during the holidays, but most of us feel miserable, frustrated, stressed out, unhealthy, and are most probably broke.
Since the only way to be truly content is to pay it forward, be grateful, mindful, and at peace, here are 7 ways to make this year’s holidays memorable and different, despite everything going on:
Most, if not all, disappointments come from having high expectations. I recall when I was young, I used to expect something grand to happen each time I go out. But I always came back home heartbroken and in tears because nothing has really changed.
I learned that living the moment is more rewarding than any big event.
Stick to a routine
When I was going through rough times last year, a wise colleague of mine suggested having a rigid routine for a while. He called it “the best cure for depression.” Ever since, my life and mental health have improved more than ever.
A routine makes us feel less worried and anxious—it’s like we’ve got everything under control. I try my best to stick to my routine at weekends and holidays so that nothing disrupts my peace. While it can be a little difficult for big families to manage—just ask the “Home Alone” little man. I believe it can be possible if we find productive and fun activities to replace school and work.
I know, I know. It is easier said than done. However, health should always remain our top priority because we can never really enjoy anything if we do not feel healthy. I used to binge-eat and binge-drink in family gatherings, work outings, and even lonely nights at home. Not anymore—and the holidays are no exception.
A huge part of living mindfully is the way we deal with food. Growing up, food was wasted so much that my sister and I make sure today that nothing goes to waste anymore. Buy and cook only what you need, bless the homeless with some, strays with some, and your garden with scraps (leftover veggies, peels, and even bread).
This might piss off some folks, but the truth does that, sometimes. When we post those perfect pictures on social media of big meals, new clothes, big happy families, we don’t even think about all those people who are struggling to make it through during this time.
I used to post stuff like that before, selfishly boasting what I had, but I reflect now on my holiday pictures before I click that button. Someone out there might be having Christmas dinner with a picture of Van Gogh because they had no one around to eat with.
I shamefully admit that I still have clothes in tags that I’ve never even worn because I was a shopaholic. I did not think of the disastrous impact the fashion industry has on our environment. The worst part is that we tend to overdo it during this time of the year, mostly to impress.
Be sure we are always impressing the wrong crowd and attracting the wrong partner when using this. Nowadays, I mix and match, promote upcycling, and dress casually and simply—believe it or not, it made me even look better.
Shop local and eco-friendly
If there is anything I am passionate about lately, it has got to be avoiding big chains. Instead, I buy and promote local and eco-friendly products. You’d be supporting small businesses, sending kids to college, paying mortgages, helping families, and who knows what else. It is a win-win.
I love giving presents, so I did some research to find sustainable gifts, and frankly, I have found more than 500 great ideas for adults and kids. I have also loved the fabric wrapping that we can use again, because each time I get something wrapped in laminated paper, I feel so bad, so I keep it under the bed—if this keeps going, I might need a ladder to go to bed.
Also, my family and I stopped putting up plastic trees years ago; we decorate plants and trees we have around with whatever decoration we already have. I’m totally against cutting trees for decoration. We’ve also become mindful when it comes to lights and saving power. Remember, less is more. I wish more cities around the world would consider doing more charitable work than spending fortunes on decoration.
Spend with empathy
Last but not least, the debt that people go into for the holidays is insane. I also know because I used to max out my credit cards. I still recall the breaking point one year, when, inspired again by my wise colleague, I had the courage to say no to playing Secret Santa at work. The money that I’d use for that game to buy wasteful stuff that the receiver might not even use or like was spent on something that made me and the dogs at the shelter happier than ever.
A quote from one of my all-time favorite movies “Fight Club” keeps me grounded when it comes to this:
“We buy things we don’t need, with money we don’t have, to impress people we don’t like.”
Happy Holidays for real this time!