Power Up: Take Time Out

Tis the Season that many of us are trying to survive without crazy stress and family drama. This is totally possible of course. We can do all that AND even have a really good time.
But on the days when you are feeling more edgy and irritable rather than fun and festive,  try one of these in-the-moment quick tip or reminders that I call Power Ups,  before you run screeching from the house. 

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Power Up: Take Time to Reboot

A sure way to fizzle out during this festive time is to do too much, too often. Stop, settle. Sit still. Sit quiet. Stop doing and start being. Build this quiet, settling time into your day — every day. I know. You’ve got loads to do. But you probably won’t get it all done, or enjoy doing it if you don’t take at least five minutes a day to do nothing. At least take five. More is better. Schedule it into your calendar and stick with it.

Not only will you feel less stressed and more sane, but you’ll be more productive, less likely to forget things, and able to make better decisions — all skills that make holiday planning easier. Plus, you’ll be healthier. Lots of perks to taking time to be quiet each day.

The biggest one though, is you’ll just feel better. Happier. More appreciative and generous, and that’s what we are going for.

How to Celebrate the Little Life Moments

Birthday cake and longevityCelebrating life moments big and small can be a powerful pick-me up. Not only does a celebration help us connect to others, but it also helps us to stop and notice the goodness that is woven throughout our lives.

And, a little celebration can help us take in our own talent and abilities and motivate us to keep working toward our goals. I acknowledge plenty of powerful life moments, with mini-celebrations alone in my office, over a cup of coffee.

These moments of celebration cause us to pause, be mindful of the moment, and that’s good for our well-being. When we stop to savor the good stuff, we buffer ourselves against the bad and build resilience, says social psychologist and researcher Fred Bryant and others.

And mini-celebrations can plump up the positive emotion which makes it easier to manage the daily challenges that otherwise cause major stress.

And, when we do allow ourselves to look ahead to a future event or experience worth celebrating – a new job, a retirement, completion of a marathon, or the release of a book  – or even the simpler things like a lunch with friends, a snow day, or a visit from the kids, we find ourselves feeling happier and this  builds optimism, according to research led by Hadassah Littman-Ovadia

How to Celebrate the Little Moments

You don’t need fancy decorations or expensive gifts to savor a celebratory moment. Just follow these steps to make the moment matter a little more and soak up the good feeling.

  •  Notice the moment. What is it that you are proud of? What have you achieved today? What do you like about your life? Where is the good energy flowing? Begin to notice what is working in your life and you’ll find something to celebrate. Perhaps the check came, or your finished a tough work project, or you handled a difficult moment with your child in a healthy, positive way. Maybe, you helped someone else, got a new job, or found the courage to enroll in the continuing ed program you’ve been thinking about.
  • Move out of the routine and set the scene. Now, stop. Go to a special place in your home, or outside to a beautiful location and give your attention to the moment of goodness or achievement.

I did that when the box containing the first book I’d written arrived. I took it to my favorite chair in front of the fireplace where I felt safe and cozy, I poured myself a  myself a fresh cup of coffee, and I opened it. Then I just looked and reminisced on the work it took to get the book done, and the challenged and I reveled in the accomplishment and became mindful experiencing the moment with all of my senses.

When my husband and I celebrate the end of our work week in another kind of mini-celebration, we do it at the kitchen island, away from the table where we normally sit. It signals to us that we are stepping out of the routine to give this good moment our attention.

  •  Commemorate the moment. Now, take some action. Make a toast, say a prayer, take a bite of a special food, sing a song, high five, light a candle. Animate the moment with a powerful, celebratory action that fires up the good energy and enjoy the goodness that you have in your life.

Why We Celebrate Everything

celebration-1328160-640x480The day before my family came for Thanksgiving dinner, my husband and I toasted to the carpet. It was still damp from the cleaning hours before, but it looked pristine.

Tonight, we’ll kick off the holiday season, then celebrate a nice family dinner by cuddling on the couch in front of a sappy romantic movie on the holiday channel. And we’ve even been known to high-five the discovery of whole wheat couscous.

In ways both little and big, stupid and endearing, we celebrate just about everything.

After 13 years of marriage, it isn’t all smooth sailing around here. We bicker over parenting differences. I’m constantly annoyed when he comes home from the grocery store with produce, bruised and rotten on one side. He doesn’t like when I interrupt or wander down the hall in mid-sentence. We have real-world challenges and some very loud discussions.

But we give extra attention to the good things in life too. We celebrate the little successes and that helps keep us connected.

Silly Celebrations Keep Connection Strong

And that connection is the thing that keeps you coming back when the last thing you want to do is be together. When the crap comes down, and it does, we also have all these little warm and silly moments of celebration to fall back on. Little bits of fun and closeness that remind me (among other things) why I fell in love with him. Why I truly want to be here.

It’s easy to remember to celebrate the big days with Christmas parties and Valentine’s Day dinners. And we do recognize those moments in small, sincere, inexpensive ways — a special card, a date night, or simple gift. (My favorite, before we were married, was a wrench to fix my garbage disposal — actually very romantic considering what we’d been talking about).

But it’s the little moments I come back to in the corners of my memory. It’s the love note he gave me, now tucked away in my drawer, to celebrate the publication of my first book. The time he picked up those Greek olives I love and he hates, to celebrate a Tuesday. It’s the happy hour Fridays we have while standing around the kitchen to commemorate a week well-done. The times we’ve celebrated the beginning of college football season by singing the fight song and hanging our fave team’s flag out front.

This isn’t about big-money, fancy gifts. It’s about coming together, to notice one another and the good stuff we share. Just taking a beat really,  to recognize that this life is big and bold and so worth celebrating.

This Friday at 4:15 he’ll throw open the front door and shout “It’s the WEEKEND!” like he does every Friday when he gets home from work. He’ll be excited, as though we aren’t middle-aged parents who go to bed by 9 p.m. on Friday nights.

We’ll toast to Friday and our week, acting like there is something to celebrate. Because, if you go looking hard enough, there always is.