On Spiritual Wellness

Index

 

The Spirit of Wealth

With high unemployment, foreclosures and dwindling portfolios, the issue of money and wealth has been on everyone’s mind. Many of us, however, do not realize the spiritual significance of wealth accumulation. We will highlight here how financial wealth accumulation is closely tied to a person’s level of consciousness. The latter refers to one’s thoughts, beliefs (thoughts that one holds true) and the accompanying feelings that go with these thoughts.

More than 60 years ago, Andrew Carnegie the great magnate, commissioned a journalist, Napolean Hill to write a book about the sources of great wealth. Hill interviewed 500 wealthy men on their methods of wealth accumulation and his work culminated in the now classic, Think and Grow Rich. Whether you are unemployed today or earning a multi-million dollar income, anyone can apply the principles of this book.

Napolean Hill identified the following positive emotions that are critical for wealth accumulation:

  • Love and romance
  • Faith
  • Creative impulse
  • Enthusiasm and hope

Another classification for these positive emotions is a high level of consciousness. If your level of consciousness is high it means that you are not controlled by your ego and that you feel connected with others and the Universe at large. In other words, you are a very highly emotionally and spiritually intelligent person.

Hill’s book which is about 230 pages can be read in about 2 to 3 hours. However, the principles can take a lifetime to apply. The vast majority of people actually fail to apply the principles. It also explains why only 3-4% of the world’s population controls 90% of the world’s wealth. Why is this? Hill identified the following key negative emotions that the average person faces:

  • Fear
  • Jealousy
  • Hatred and revenge
  • Greed
  • Anger

Hill emphasized that having any one of these emotions on a consistent basis would be sufficient to hinder wealth accumulation. As examples of how these emotions play out in daily life, look below and honestly evaluate if you engage in one or more of the following:

  1. If you are envious or jealous of someone who is more successful materially than you are. Or, if you get jealous/disappointed when a co-worker gets a promotion and you don’t.
  2. If you gloat when someone financially rich suffers a ‘misfortune’(i.e. a ‘serves them right’ attitude)
  3. If you are continuously worried about trivial things.
  4. If you have pent-up resentment or grievances for any reason, even if they happened while you were still a child.
  5. If you currently have unpleasant ‘issues’ with anyone, any situation or event.

If you look at the above attitudes and the negative emotions that go with them, you will see that these are the work of your ego. The more control ego has over your life, the worse you will feel on a day to day basis. Just as a reminder, your ego is your self-image of yourself, that continuously tries to disconnect you from others and Infinite Intelligence. The more disconnected you are, the more negative emotions you will feel. Consequently, you will block the flow of communication to Infinite Intelligence that is the ultimate source of true abundance.

The ego is so insidious, it takes every opportunity to rear its ugly head. This is one reason why some wealthy people (especially men) cannot stay rich. Wealth preservation is just as critical as wealth accumulation. Once some people become very wealthy, the ego once again takes control over them, giving them a false sense of invulnerability. You will see that these individuals engage in extra-marital affairs, unethical business practices and outright arrogance. As the level of ego-consciousness increases with their increased wealth, very soon, however, financial decline follows suit. The flip side of course, are persons who are able to control their egos all along wealth accumulation by maintaining humility and modesty. The latter are key characteristics of true leadership.

It is also interesting to note that once significant wealth accumulation occurs, many people feel a sense of emptiness. The question they often ask is, ‘now what?’ The reason for this feeling is the lack of awareness of why they wanted to get rich in the first place. If one sifts through all the motives for wanting to get wealthy, it boils down to basically one motive which is: ‘I want to feel better….” Once again the ego is insidiously urging us to find happiness outside of ourselves. It convinces us that if we get that newer car or the bigger house or the next deal we are going to feel better.

However, as you may have realized from your own experience, that after getting a new toy, the initial euphoria fades quickly. The reason for this is that true joy comes from within, not from without. For many people, who have not done enough introspection to realize this, once the euphoria of the new trinket fades, the ego successfully cajoles them into striving for the next conquest. This endless chase after an illusion becomes an addiction, the consequences of which are manifested in various diseases and disruptive relationships.

If you want to feel better (and all of us want joy and peace in our lives), you can do it immediately here and now without depending on any external thing, person or situation. Simply change your thoughts from negative ones to positive ones. Of the countless ways to raise your vibration of feeling well, examples include reaching out to a friend, taking a walk in the park or listening to peaceful music.

Given the above, what is the appropriate context in which wealth should be viewed and what are the timeless principles of its accumulation that will simultaneously bring happiness?

  1. Do introspection and ask yourself why you want wealth. Try to understand that your ego wants you to think that wealth will bring you happiness, joy and peace. Joy and peace however are independent of anything external to you. These feelings are within the realm of the soul. Make an effort to get in touch with your soul, therefore, on a daily basis. When was the last time you picked up a book on spirituality? Also, you can feel better immediately by shifting your attitudes from negativity to positivity.
  2. Understand the difference between basic human needs and egoic wants. Our basic needs are food, clothing and shelter. After the minimum has been met to keep body, mind and soul together, realize that more of these items, while nice to have, are not necessary. If you have surplus funds and can afford more, make sure you question your motivations. For example, if you purchase an item, is it for basic needs or is to look good in front of others (ego). These questions are especially critical if you are facing unemployment and foreclosure. Note that your job and house does not define Who You Really Are.
  3. Have an even-keeled attitude at all times with respect to financial wealth. The more attached you are to it, the more painful will be your loss, should it occur. The best analogy of money is that of water. The more tightly you squeeze onto it, the less you will have. Leave your palms open to ensure flow. This is one secret paradox of wealth accumulation.
  4. In order to ensure that money flows in to you, have a go-giver attitude rather than a go-getter one. If you are working in an organization, make yourself indispensable by going beyond expectations. Help your co-workers and ask for more responsibilities. Be proactive and take initiative. Think of how you can increase revenues for the business. Understand, however, that the core of business should be primarily about outstanding service at a very high quality. Revenues and hence profits automatically flow for companies and individuals that bend head over heels for the customer. Service first, then profits. Hence the adage: love what you do and the money will follow. Make your work a prayer.
  5. In the spirit of giving, donate money on a regular basis to charitable causes, even if it is $1 a month. Remember, it is not so much about helping the less fortunate as it is about raising your own level of consciousness. When you give, you automatically feel connected to the Universe and your overall vibration rises. If you are really financially tight, volunteer your time to a worthy cause so that you get the focus off yourself. The ego wants you to feel miserable about yourself and will do everything in its power to make you dwell on depressing thoughts (Remember: depression = $outflow)
  6. Finally, make an effort to preserve what you have. Even if you have saved up a small amount of money, it should be protected through wills and trusts. Go to Suze Orman’s website (www.suzeorman.com) to read about wills, trusts and other valuable practical advice.

You may have heard that many religions warn of the dangers of surplus wealth and too much desire. The leaders of these religions, however, did not do a very good job of explaining why this was the case, because of their very limited understanding of the complex workings of the human psyche. A widespread erroneous belief that excess wealth was associated with evil therefore ensued in many cultures. Hopefully this article has shed light on the fact that wealth per se is not the problem. The problem is the human ego. The issue is what is done with wealth and how it is used. The sacred texts are correct to a degree in their warnings, because they know how difficult it is for the average person to transcend and tame their egos. The religious edict about taming desire (‘don’t covet’) also needs clarification. It is actually impossible not to have a desire. The desire not to have a desire is itself a desire!!! Desire is the creative impulse of the Universe and it is through this that Infinite Intelligence co-creates with us.

Is it possible to have it all then? Yes it is possible, provided you know why you are on earth in the first place. The bottom line is this: the sole (soul) purpose of your life is to evolve into higher levels of consciousness and co-create with Infinite Intelligence. As you transcend your ego, you will see that you have increasing levels of peace in your life. From this, follows wealth in the broadest terms – not only financial wealth but also loving relationships and good health. It really pays therefore to heed the advice: ‘Seek ye first the kingdom of God…..and all these things shall be added unto you.’

 

What Would Love Do Now?

Human beings are composed of three parts: body, mind and soul. The core of our existence is the soul. The essence of the soul is love. It is timeless, silent, infinite, and without boundaries. The language of the soul is feeling. How are you feeling now? If you are feeling joyful, peaceful and One with everyone and everything around you, then you are in touch with your soul. This inner joy does not depend on any external person or situation. You can get in touch with your inner spirit by fully being present (i.e., giving attention) in the now. It is not about getting something out of a situation or from anyone. It is about giving your full attention to the present moment. Life is about for-giving not for-getting (Who You Are).

On the other hand, if you are feeling depressed, anxious or angry, these feelings are signs that you are not in touch with your spirit. Even low-grade, chronic, feelings of discomfort, worry, nervousness and unease are symptoms that your ego-mind is at work. The root of all physical disease is emotional dis-ease. The mind is an incredible creative power tool that generates thought. It is the bridge between body and soul. When it operates in a very closed framework, generating thoughts that are focused only on your concerns, this is the ego-mind at work. It is a sense of separation from everyone and everything. This is the root cause of all fear.

Quantum physics has shown that our individual bodies are really a condensed form of energy in an Infinite Sea of Energy that we call the Universe. Our bodies are literally one with this Infinite Energy. We think we are separate, because our brains cannot perceive or see these swirling masses of energy. So we are literally living in a world of illusions. All the sacred texts of religion have been echoing this for centuries. The key to mastery in life is to enjoy (to find joy) in this illusory world without getting attached to it (‘be in this world, but not of it’). It is like wearing a garment loosely. So go beyond your limited ego-mind and see life with an expanded vision. See yourself in others and everything. See the Oneness in and all around you. When you use your mind to see life in this expanded way, you will feel better almost immediately. Other practical steps to get you to a better-feeling place of Oneness are:

  • Taking a walk in nature
  • Planting flowers
  • Going to a museum
  • Volunteering at a local charity
  • Smiling at a ‘stranger’
  • Listening to peaceful music
  • Visiting an elderly, lonely person

While it is easy to see the spirit of unity when things are going well, the real test of love and faith is when things are not apparently rosy. It is to see and find love in the ‘unlovable’- the seemingly bad boss, the estranged spouse or the nasty mother-in-law. Or, the divorce, the job loss, or death of a loved one. Here again, you have to go beyond the small ego-mind and see people and events from a larger spiritual context. An analogy of this would be a beautiful painting. Stepping back, you can see the whole painting as a wonderful creation. As you focus on the details, you notice that bright objects in the painting could only have been made to appear that way by the use of shadows of dark colors. So it is with the dark and ‘evil’ forces in your life. The bad guys are needed for the contrasts in the painting of your Life. They play a critical role in your soul’s evolution. You don’t have to hang out with them always. However, you must take the gifts they have to offer if you are to move on. These treasures are buried deep in your emotional dis-ease, not theirs. If you don’t dig them out, the Universe will force you to stay with them or make them re-appear in different forms, until you do. A significant step in your soul’s evolution is about recognizing and acknowledging its shadows. As you work on exploring the details of your shadows, it is important to pause and often step back to see your life from a more holistic perspective, just as you would see a beautiful painting from afar. This gives context to an apparently difficult situation.

So, when seeming darkness descends on your life, you need to be extra vigilant about being love, in thought, word and deed. This is not an ego-centric (what’s in it for me only) love but a cosmo-centric one (what’s in it for me and you and us and All of Life). It is not about win-lose, but about win-win. All choices should be made from this expanded vision of love. In every moment of your life you are either making a decision of love or fear. Choose love. In the words of Neale Donald Walsch, one of the most important questions you can ever ask yourself is, therefore, ‘What would love do now’?

 

Why Do I Need a Significant Other?

Whether we are already in a relationship with another or about to enter a new one, this is a question we rarely ask ourselves. We don’t stop to think why we ‘fell in love.’ Unfortunately, for most people, love is in response to need fulfillment. Everyone has needs. Unconsciously and tacitly, we enter into a relationship with the idea that the other person will satisfy our needs. We make a trade – you give me that, and I will give you this. These needs can be physical, financial or emotional such as to end loneliness, depression or to salve one’s ego or fill a void. It is because we enter into a relationship for the ‘wrong reasons’ that each year, millions of marriages end in divorce and countless others live in quiet desperation.

Is there a ‘right reason’ then, for entering into a relationship? A relationship starts off on the right footing when both partners consciously and purposely realize that the first and foremost purpose of life is to evolve spiritually. This means to let our soul emerge and correspondingly diminish our ego. Paradoxically, we don’t need another person to achieve our full potential. The soul is complete in itself- infinite, timeless, and all loving. Instead of spending our time trying to fix or change others we should spend time trying to develop ourselves so that our soul potential emerges. This requires an active interest in spirituality. It is something we should not only do on Sundays or when we ‘have time’. It requires dedicated commitment. We cannot love another until we love ourselves. It is impossible to give what we don’t have.

When we don’t know what the ultimate purpose of life is, we look to another to fill our void. Because no other individual can really fill our deepest need for Self-evolution (joy and inner peace), we quickly become disillusioned and blame the other.

Although at one level, we do not need another, relationships do offer immense opportunities for growth provided that both partners know why they are on earth in the first place. Relationships are mirrors, whereby we are given opportunities for seeing our blind spots. So be thankful for the difficult or critical partner. True honesty and self-evaluation will reveal that you are most likely difficult and critical at some level. In other words, you are stuck with ego beliefs.

If relationships are seen as opportunities rather than as obligations, they can quickly hasten a person’s spiritual evolution (ego diminishment). It really does pay emotionally to be spiritually evolved in this life. You don’t have to wait to go to heaven. Numerous studies have confirmed that egoless people are the happiest. You know when you are around one – they radiate unconditional love and leave you with a warm feeling. These people have inner peace regardless of their outer circumstances.

So, we need relationships and we don’t. The best attitude for a successful long-term relationship is when you realize that you are primarily here on earth to develop spiritually. A relationship is a vehicle to achieve this. It is nice to have your partner around but you don’t really ‘need’ him or her. So focus on developing and loving yourself. The more love you have inside you, the more you have to give to another and the world at large. Be the change.

 

Personal Responsibility‐ What it Really Means

We often use the word ‘responsibility’ loosely. However, do we really know the true meaning of this word? Responsibility derives from the root words ‘the ability to respond.’ We are always responding to life’s circumstances, either in a reactive or creative manner.

It is not what happens to us, but how we respond to what happens to us. Too often, we do not exercise our ability to respond to making creative choices, in thought, word or deed. When this happens, we are reactive. We are not conscious of why we do what we do. Reactivity is essentially a victim behavior. Relying on memory tapes that replay over and over in our minds,
reactive behavior often focuses on blame. However, each moment in life is a new one. When we are truly focused on the present moment, we don’t need to rely on previous impressions of our memories and can look at a circumstance with fresh new eyes. In other words, true responsibility occurs when we are creative in thought, word and deed. Consider a situation where you might be having a ‘problem’ with your spouse or significant other. There are broadly two ways to respond:

  1. Reactive Response
    • My partner needs to stop blaming me for our problems.
    • My partner needs to go to therapy and work on his/her emotions.
    • My partner needs to face the truth about this relationship.

    Note that in the above scenario, the person believes that the source of pain is outside him or her, and therefore, focuses on blaming the partner. In other words, the person is not willing or unable to take emotional responsibility. Now, instead of labeling this issue with the partner a ‘problem,’ one can make a creative choice and re-label it ‘opportunity for growth.’ One makes a
    concerted effort to look within and finds out why one feels that particular way. In this case, the thought processes would be along the lines:

  2. Creative Response
    • I need to stop blaming my partner for the issues that we are having.
    • I need to go to therapy and work through my own emotions.
    • I need to stop lying about how I feel about myself.

The last bullet point about how we feel is critical for healing our relationships. Feeling is the barometer of where we are on the scale of responsibility. If we don’t feel good about ourselves, we cannot feel good about others. We cannot give what we do not have. The very first step towards creative responsibility is, therefore, acknowledging our feelings. The more pain (despair, fear, depression, anger) we feel, the less will we be able to respond creatively. The pain is essentially a signal for us to look within and contemplate how we might bring about more
creative responses and healing.

There is one thing that is constant about life. It is a process of continuous change and evolution. The more resistant we are to change, the more pain will we feel and the more reactive we will be. On the other hand, if we let life flow through with an open mind, we will be able to feel joy and peace. When these feelings are present, it is a signal that we are in a position to make creative choices. So are you generally REACTIVE or CREATIVE? If you are reactive, all you need to do is to move the “C” in the former word to make the latter. Creative responsibility is ultimately about going from a sea of confusion to a sea of unlimited possibilities. As an analogy, a one degree change in a ship’s compass can take it many thousands of miles off course. Be mindful of your thoughts and attitudes. Hit the pause button before taking any action. A small change in how you decide to look at circumstances can have a profound impact. The choice is yours.

 

Smiling and Laughing Your Way to Health

Picture an average morning of an everyday American. He wakes up, running late for work and decides to skip breakfast so he can make it to work within a reasonable amount of time. As he looks for his shirt he swears he left it on the couch the night before, his three-year-old daughter realizes her dad is trying to leave the house. She begins to cry for her dad, and he has to leave the house knowing that his wife now has to deal with a screaming, uncontrollable child. He runs into traffic on the way to work and gets there half an hour late. After being yelled at by his boss for his tardiness, the man sits at his desk and begins his 12 hour project that is due by noon that day. Sounds pretty terrible, right? As bad as his day may seem, he could improve it and his health by taking some time to smile.

Studies prove that smiling has many positive effects including:

  • Making you appear younger.
  • Making you seem successful.
  • Making you healthy and relieving stress.
  • Smiling helps to improve your immune function.
  • Smiling helps to lower your blood pressure.
  • Smiling releases endorphins and serotonin that help give us a feeling of well-being.
  • Leading you to laughter.

Smiling and laughing both have many positive effects, so it is important to give yourself the opportunity to laugh frequently. Below are some ways to help you laugh your way to health and happiness:

  • Befriend funny people.
  • Share or read a good joke (there are plenty of websites with all sorts of funny jokes)
  • Participate in fun activities that make you laugh.
  • Watch a funny movie.
  • Laugh at yourself.
  • Talk about events you took extremely seriously and now laugh at yourself for being so serious, in this way, you learn to relax and give yourself a new outlook on life.
  • Have fun/funny things always around you.
  • Grab a funny toy or a hilarious picture.
  • Frame pictures with you and your family having fun.
  • Play with children.
  • Playing and laughing are part of a child’s forte. Take time to learn from the experts.
  • Attend a “laughter yoga” class.
  • Laughter yoga is a way to force the body to laugh and exercise leaving a person feeling healthy and energized.

Below are three laughter yoga exercises. Don’t feel afraid to practice them in your free time!

  • One exercise, the jumping frog, calls for a person to squat down on the floor with his/her buttocks very close to the floor. The person then extends his/her knees, jumping , and on the way up, says “HA” very loudly landing once again in the squat position. Repeat jumping frog 5-10 times in a row for optimum results.
  • Another exercise has a person try different kinds of laughs. Begin with a “ho ho ho,” and place your hands over your abdomen. Move your hands to the throat and emit a “he he he.” Try to determine where the laugh originates.
  • A third exercise, the lion laughter exercise, is carried out by having you walk around with knees slightly bent and back slightly arched forward. You should have your hands near your face as though they are claws and slowly stomp around growling and laughing all the while. Do this exercise in roughly two minute intervals.

Smiling and laughing help people to become healthier and happier, so the next time you are feeling down, turn your frown upside down and laugh a little too.

 

Choosing Gratitude in All Circumstances

What is gratitude? The dictionary definition states that it is “the quality or feeling of being thankful”. We are taught that gratitude is only experienced in response to the good things that happen to us. But it is really much more than that. Gratitude is ultimately the acceptance with grace and love, of every situation life puts us in; it is the act of being thankful no matter what the circumstance is, whether “good” or “bad”. True gratitude occurs when we give thanks for just being alive every day and not dwelling on the difficulties and hardships that surround us. Gratitude is the attitude of receiving the here and now with love.

The average person tends to give thanks for good fortune, and look down upon misfortune. This mentality, however, is not how we should deal with the things that happen to us throughout life. Take this short Chinese story, as an example: A peasant receives a healthy horse from a friend; this is considered a good fortune. A little later though, the horse becomes ill. This is bad fortune. Soon after, a generous woman decides to pay for the animal’s medicine; the horse is now healthy, so this is yet another instance of good fortune for the peasant. But a few days later, the peasant is robbed of all his possessions, leaving him with nothing. The story goes on like this- good news, bad news. The point of this story is that what we initially categorize as good or bad, may wind up to be very different in the end. Very often, good fortune lies within what we may perceive as something bad, and vice versa. It is, therefore, important to let the “bad” situations be a learning experience for us and receive the “good “ situations with an even-tempered attitude. In any given situation, we should not be overly joyous or deflated. If we do, we allow the outer situation to control our inner freedom.

The ultimate purpose of life is for us to grow spiritually – to grow in compassion, love, fortitude and patience. Our mistakes and apparent misfortunes give us the biggest opportunities for such growth. When such challenges present themselves, gratitude does not mean accepting resignation. Rather, it means to accept the here and now with total love and honesty. Once we stop resisting the present reality, creative ideas automatically spring up for us to tackle such situations. We can then be appreciative of what we are learning in the process as well as be thankful for latent skills we never thought we had, to cope with such situations. The past and present cannot be changed- they are, what they are. There is no point in wasting energy in wishing what could have been. If we resist what is, it only muddies the water of our creative imagination and prevents spiritual guidance that might lead to creating a better future through the innate talents and skills that we have.

A real-life experience that strongly relates to true gratitude is that of psychiatrist Viktor Frankl. In 1942, he was captured and held hostage at a Nazi concentration camp, where he was one of the only survivors. Despite the physical torment, Frankl went through the whole experience with an extremely open and loving attitude. The real prisoners in these concentration camps, he believed were the imprisoning thoughts of anger, fear, hatred and self-pity that each person held. He knew that he needed to view himself as more than just a body, if he were to survive. He was aware that the true core of his being was his soul. It was this knowing and belief that provided meaning to his experience and enabled him to transcend his physical self. He used his suffering as a portal through which his soul could make itself known to him. He observed that in the camps, those inmates who beheld suffering as a meaning towards soul revelation, were the ones that survived. The ones that did not have this inner freedom, were the ones that perished quickly. He believed in forgiving the Nazis because he thought that it was their spiritual ignorance that motivated their atrocious behavior. It is quoted by Frankl that “with meaning, suffering can be endured with dignity.” After Frankl was liberated, he wrote a book called Man’s Search for Meaning. The message of the book and Frankl’s most famous quote is this: “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances.”

Being grateful at all times is a very important quality to have throughout life, and in all situations. However, do most of us really acknowledge the simple and basic joys and necessities of life? The food and water that keep us alive, the air we breathe? Our primary relationships? A roof over our heads? Most of us take these blessings for granted. However, it is especially important to be grateful for these blessings, because before we know it, everything can be taken away from us.

Every one of us deals with problems and obstacles now and then, so here is a little something that will help us get through them more easily. Count your blessings. Writing out a daily list of what we are grateful for can increase energy, motivation, and general well-being. The ultimate blessing that all of us have is our freedom to choose, no matter what condition we are in. We can imprison ourselves with thoughts of fear. Or, we can free ourselves with thoughts of love. Each decision in life is always about love or fear. By choosing love no matter what, is the true meaning of having an attitude with gratitude.

 

Stress Management through the Holidays

Although the holiday season is supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year, it can also be very stressful , as people have increased responsibilities relating to decorating, shopping and entertaining. While many feel stressed, few understand what stress really is or are aware of the negative effects on health. Because of this lack of awareness, many people are not able to adequately manage stress, especially during the holiday season.

Stress is the body’s reaction to fear or anxiety that can be caused by any number of events or situations including an upcoming test, being attacked by a wild animal, or having to prepare dinner for thirty people when you only have enough for twenty. Stress causes your body to release various particles and hormones that cause the body to react quickly to the surrounding environment. For example, the brain releases Neuropeptide S which increases a person’s sense of alertness and urgency. The heart also beats faster, people breathe more frequently, and the spleen emits red and white blood cells at an increased rate. The increase of blood cells, heart rate, and oxygen in the body helps the body to become ready to deal with greater demands. When someone is in danger, he or she becomes stressed, and because of that, he is able to run faster, fight harder, or do whatever it takes to survive. However, when a person becomes stressed on a regular basis, or allows his stress to lead him to depression, the person is causing harm to his body.

Although stress can sometimes be beneficial, it can negatively affect your health. Stress can cause decreased thyroid function, elevated glucose and insulin levels, high blood pressure, decreased immune function, poor nutrient absorption from the gastro-intestinal tract, change in sex hormones, and sleep deprivation. In addition, stress can cause you to become jittery, and decreases your ability to be patient and tolerate your situation. This can cause you to alienate the people you love because you may yell at them due to your stress. By stressing to make the holidays a special time for your family, you may actually make it a miserable challenge your family is forced to endure.

The key to a peaceful holiday season is learning to manage your stress. To cope with stressful situations, some people drink alcoholic substances, eat more food, watch television for hours, or work longer hours. However, these methods are unsuccessful at best, and some of them can even worsen stressful feelings. The first step in stress management is determining the source of your stress and acknowledging that you are partially responsible for your stress. Even if you are in a situation that is not under your control, you still have the ability to decide how you will react to the situation. Therefore, if you are feeling stressed, you have the ability to relax.

The relaxation response is essentially meditation. While some people may think of meditation as some strange and foreign practice, meditation is commonly practiced across the United States. The relaxation response is started by first finding a quiet area to sit down, preferably a place free of clutter and electronic devices. Next, you should sit comfortably and close your eyes. Breathe in and out slowly and calmly repeating a word or phrase quietly each time you exhale, for instance, you could repeat, “I am at peace.” Your objective should be to clear your mind of any thoughts and focus on your breathing. If you begin to think about other things, realize you are straying and calmly refocus on your breathing. Do this for 10 to 15 minutes or however long it takes to calm yourself down.

The relaxation response may not be effective if you are not able to do it correctly. In order to make sure your meditation will be relaxing, you should first practice meditating a few times a week during stress free situations. Once you feel comfortable meditating, try to do it if you begin to feel stressed. Remember, you are in control, and only you can manage your stress.

Specific ways to avoid stressful situations are:

  • Understand and accept the fact that not everything will be perfect. People make mistakes, and so will you.
  • Don’t procrastinate.
  • Leaving everything to the last minute ensures that something will be missed. Shop in advance and online; this can save you much time and effort.
  • Take a break.
  • If you take a 15 minute break and meditate, you can easily reduce the stress around the holidays. Meditate every day if you have to, and remember to focus on your breathing.
  • Get a good night’s sleep.
  • Getting adequate sleep balances key hormones and ensures vitality and productivity throughout the day.
  • Think positively.
  • If you do not want something to stress you, it won’t. Try to look for the best in any situation.

The holidays can be an enjoyable time if you are able to keep it stress free. Though you may feel stressed sometimes, understand why you are feeling stressed and determine how you can dissolve those feelings. Take time to appreciate your situation and your environment. Spend time with those who you care about and who care about you. This mutually loving environment can help to keep you happy and stress free, even if the weather outside is frightful.