When we’re alone — whether by ourselves at home or in the midst of a crowd of strangers or family — Christmas holidays can feel really yucky.
But it doesn’t have to be like that. We have the power to change how we feel about something in the moment we realize we’re not having fun!
If you are not feeling joy in this moment, what were/are you thinking about? Was it a comparison of yourself with another? A reflection on mistakes you’ve made? Is my mind in the past? Or am I fully in the present? I have this challenge daily, and I’m betting that you do, too.
So what can we do about it? How can we feel joy no matter what others are doing?
We can change our minds with Constant Course Correction.
We all have an auto-correction device like the ones on airplanes that correct the plane’s course many times to keep it going where it was set to go: our emotions!
I’ve been more conscious about noticing how I feel (joy or not joy) lately. I’ve observed the process and here’s what I learned. How I feel is triggered by the things I tell myself about whatever I take in from my environment — whether it’s the phone call from a sales solicitor, a neighbor’s loud car speakers, the guy on the highway who cuts in front of me leaving inches between our vehicles at 50 mph, or a verbal sneer.
No one can make us unhappy or angry. It’s what we tell ourselves — either consciously or subconsciously (from old stuff) that knocks us off our version of “joy.” (I’m assuming everyone wants to feel good most of the time, right?) The icky emotion is the signal: “We’re off course! Correct it now!”
When something happens that offends me, I’m learning to give myself a time-out to contemplate that instant feeling of BURN that results from taking offense.
I had one yesterday when the gorgeous, but incredibly vacant, young woman gave me a lecture about the collagen product I had been taking for over a year — buying it there, from her! My mind was a buzz of “What would Jesus do? What would my Guru do? How about that guy who negotiates peace worldwide? Ultimately, I just said, “Thank you,” got the product I wanted from the shelves on the wall and handed it to her husband to ring up for me. (He even noticed the futuristic metal brace on the arm that had elbow surgery and asked me about it — a gesture that smoothed my ruffled feathers.)
As I reached through the steering wheel to start my car, I felt powerfully conflicting emotions. Like anger: Has no one taught her about customer service? And remorse: after all these years of working on myself, why do I still take offense by something someone else does? Could it be that her comment dialed up some unhealed business that happened many years ago?
Memories of similar instances flashed before my eyes: people telling me what to do.
All at once I laughed out loud!
I even cranked the tunes up and mentally danced my victory as I drove away, singing, “One down, a lifetime more to come. It’s just like practicing tennis with a ball machine! I can do this! I can learn to control my emotions and what I think, even in LIFE!”
It’s important to note that controlling the mind is not the same in LIFE as it is in meditation. Meditation is the tool I learned almost thirty years ago so I could be imperturbable because I’m hypersensitive. But LIFE is different! It happens instantly, and there’s always another player involved.
In meditation, it’s just me and my mind: watching the “memory movies” of past events where thoughts go by like autumn leaves without my participating in their dance or drawing them closer to inspect the details. Choosing to dance with it, giving your attention to whatever shows up, defeats the purpose. (Save that for a moment of conscious contemplation, perhaps with your journal.)
In LIFE, the engagement is instantaneous and always involves another player. But the rules are the same: allow whoever or whatever to be however it IS without judgment, opinion, or comment. In short, without “dancing with it.” It’s only when I draw that thing closer with my attention that I get the burn— the signal from my auto correction device (emotion) to correct my course.
We all offend each other every single day, but I seriously doubt anyone wakes up with the thought, “How can I ruin her day?” Instead, we’re all doing the very best we can.
So what would those enlightened guys do? They would allow others to be however they are in that moment; they would not take it personally. This holiday season is a perfect time to practice letting others be. No matter what anyone does, they do not have the power to make you feel anything; only you do!
Let’s choose to keep our Christmas merry and have a happier new year!
Till next time, please be kind to everyone you meet for we all have our hidden sorrows. ~Tzaddi
[NOTE: Watch for the continuation of The Drifter series after the holidays: “Gifts of clearing clutter (from the garage) with Feng Shui.” Writing the last article, “Gifts from Working with the Drifter,” with two fingers on one hand after elbow surgery was…difficult.]
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