Joy as a Mental Strategy
When I prepare mentally for the holiday season, I remind myself of one mindful attitude in particular: JOY. Joy is an attitude of the heart. The warm feeling we can choose to feel from inside with intention.
I am mindful of my intentions for the festive season. This includes my intention to engage with loved ones, with neighbours and strangers in soft and kind way. But even more so to engage with myself by pacing my levels of tension, impatience and striving.
Also setting an intention that makes a difference from other times of the year. I ask myself, looking back what is the one thing that I want to have accomplished (i.e. making some people happy with a poignant choice of gifts; having spent quality time with some people I love; having met with people without masks and little risk of infection).
Traps of mindlessness
Some of us seem to be driven by perfection, sometimes based on missed chances during our own childhood or due to chasing a nostalgic high we want to replicate. It is essential to bethink yourself of the purpose of the holidays and how you want to celebrate it.
Mindfulness suffers when we get ahead of ourselves, when we are not being present with all our senses.
Some of us want to please too many people or cater for too many needs (i.e. giving, meeting, singing, eating, resting, celebrating, reading, cheering, greeting, kissing, …). It can be difficult during these times of heightened expectations to allow yourself to be human.
Cultivate mindfulness over the holidays
In any culture, important holidays typically put a strain on families and relationships. Christmas being the one I grew up with. It is also a time when sadly I receive more enquiries from couples. Holidays come with cultural norms and obligations, loads of expectation regarding behaviour and family dynamics galvanise.
Being mindful means to pay attention from moment to moment without judging. The reward then is to be able to engage with each other in harmony without being carried away by our minds, our work or our (hi)story.
Coming back to Joy
Mindfulness can simply mean to practice joy, generating warmth from your heart. For some that might mean to be a bit less self-involved and for others that might mean to offer more of what one truly has to offer: their own joyful presence not “presents”. Please find free guided meditations, links to more and reading material on Counselling in Hong Kong website https://counsellinghongkong.com and contact counsellor Sebastian Droesler for more information.
Three simple practice during the festive season
- Choose to focus your attention on one thing or task at a time. Be fully present with the task at hand. When you speak to someone, think before you talk. When you eat, chew and taste before you swallow. When you drink, smell and savour the good stuff. When your attention is being pulled or your mind wanders, notice where it went and then bring it back.
- Expand your awareness without judgement without striving. Take a moment to observe yourself and your surroundings in stillness. Resist the temptation to leap forward into the next thing to do. What do you notice about yourself? Watch what is going on around you? No need to change anything. But if you choose to act, do it with elegance.
- Practice your Lovingkindness. Lovingkindness is the practice of wishing well. You can use phrases such as “may you be happy. May you be healthy.” that you can say in silence to yourself, loved ones, strangers and even people you find difficult. Connect with positive emotions of goodwill and benevolence. We’re not trying to manifest any reality (we’re not going to make anyone healthy by wishing that they are), but rather seeing how it feels to say these words to another person while genuinely meaning it.
If you are looking for counselling or coaching via in-person sessions with Sebastian, you can find his office conveniently in Lan Kwai Fong, Central Hong Kong.