Creating Happiness During the Holidays - Tips 7 to 9

7 - Less Is More

A huge source of stress during this holiday season is the “obligation” that we feel to buy gifts for way too many people. This not only bursts our budgets, it also steals our happiness and our energy.

Do yourself a huge favor and narrow down your shopping list this year! Furthermore, try to only give gifts that come from your heart. The Bible says, “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” Remember that! If you are not a cheerful giver, then don’t bother giving.

Kyla looking fashionable in her faux fur coat at Pike Place Market in Seattle - Photography by Paul Garrett

Kyla looking fashionable in her faux fur coat at Pike Place Market in Seattle - Photography by Paul Garrett

When I first got married, we felt obligated to buy gifts for every niece, nephew and sibling. Seriously, the list went on and on and it cost us a fortune. And of course we rarely received thank you notes from these people. What does that tell you?

Only give gifts that come from your heart. These are presents that you are really excited to give because you know that the receiver will absolutely love them! This will give you positive energy and make the recipient happy, as well. And remember, material things are only temporary. What really matters this time of year is making joyful memories with the people who you love. After all, great memories are more precious and they last a lifetime!!

8 - Mindful Eating This Season

Happiness and food go hand in hand during the holidays. Endless parties, sweets in the break room at work and big old fashioned family dinners are a major part of this season. Overeating, however, has a big downside upon your energy, your waistline and your happiness.

The magic of Christmas at the Volunteer Park Conservatory - Photography by Paul Garrett

The magic of Christmas at the Volunteer Park Conservatory - Photography by Paul Garrett

When I was a kid, we celebrated Christmas day with my aunt, uncle, grandmother and cousins. During dinner everyone piled their plates sky high with turkey, ham, mash potatoes, corn casserole, Christmas Jello, homemade rolls and more. Before my plate was even empty, my aunt would say, “We have plenty, so help yourself to seconds.” I was taught by my parents that it wasn’t polite to refuse seconds, so there was a lot of pressure to eat more. After dinner I felt so uncomfortably stuffed and tired, and when the evening rolled around the feasting started all over again with leftovers, cookies, apple pie and homemade ice cream. This was our tradition, but to be honest, eating so much did not make me feel good and that had a negative impact upon my happiness.

Practice eating mindfully this holiday season and reduce the amount of food that you consume. Also, understand that meat, refined carbs, sugar and alcohol can be taxing on your metabolism and upon your digestive system. Consider eating a larger proportion of natural plant based foods rather than meat and sweets, and notice how they make you feel lighter and more energetic. It’s all about being in touch with yourself and finding balance within. Also get outside and exercise. The times are changing and you are no longer obligated to overeat to please your host. Treating your body with respect will make you feel better, which will ultimately raise your level of happiness!

9 - Be A Cheerful Giver and Receiver

I mentioned before how important it is to give gifts that come from the heart. In other words, be a cheerful giver and you will be happy. It is also just as important to be a cheerful recipient of gifts.

Once I gave a loaf of my delicious homemade oatmeal bread and a bottle of wine to one of my best friends. He was very gracious, but as many Americans do he said, “you didn’t have to do this.” Like I said, he was gracious. However, many of us get stressed out this time of year when we are given a gift and do not have a present to give in return because we are conditioned to believe that we must make a “mutual material exchange” or the other person will feel hurt or insulted. In reality, however, one of the best gifts that we can give in return is our authentic reaction of joy, surprise and appreciation! So if the response inside of your head is, “oh shit, now I have to buy them a gift,” the giver will pick up on your negative energy and they will likely feel bad as if they let you down by giving a present that you do not like.

Photography by Paul Garrett

Photography by Paul Garrett

Remember our thoughts are energy and other people pick up on them. Also remember that a cheerful giver does not give gifts with the expectation of receiving them in return. They give because they care about you and it makes them happy to do so. I was happy to give a special gift to my friend and wanted him and his girlfriend to know that I appreciate them. I do not need a gift in return. Their friendship is a bigger present than my bread and wine could ever be. So, be a cheerful recipient of all gifts this holiday season. Your happiness toward another person’s act of kindness is a wonderful gift in return.

So take the pressure off this holiday season. Slow down and enjoy the colorful lights that light up the night. When we move from materialism into gratitude, from obligation to desire, the energy of the season becomes so much more joyful. The holidays are about love and light so enjoy them without pressure.

Merry Christmas and happy holidays!

With love,


P.S. - Please click on the heart below if you enjoyed this series on happiness. And stay tuned for my upcoming blog on the importance of vitamin D.

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