With Thanksgiving coming up (holy crap, it’s this week, it really snuck up on me!), I thought I’d take a moment to really think about the year and to focus on gratitude. It’s too easy for me to get carried away with the hustle and bustle and stress during the holidays, and I always start off each new year feeling frazzled instead of grateful.
Stacey Andon gave me a beautiful nugget of wisdom the other day. She asked me, “How are your challenges a gift?”
Talk about blowing my mind. It’s so easy to get run down by challenges. They make life hard. They stress me out. I can think of a thousand other negative things to say about challenges, but here is the truth. Without challenges, we wouldn’t grow. We’d be the same self-centered and oblivious people that we were as teenagers. It’s through challenges, walking through the fire, that we are polished into beautiful people. Inside of each wrench thrown in your plans is a life lesson that the universe has guided toward you.
I took a long, honest look back at this past year. At the challenges I’ve faced- the big problems, the inconveniences, the stress, all the negative things that life throws at us all. And I looked at who I am today, in this very moment. The fires I walked through all had a direct impact on me- something good has come out of every single one of them. Maybe I learned something about myself. Maybe I learned something about someone else. I’m more open, more compassionate towards others and toward myself, I’m willing to work in a more focused manner, I’m more involved in the community. All positive things that I would not have experienced had it not been for the negative experiences that pushed me to move out of my comfort zones. I’ve screwed up a lot (I mean, really, who hasn’t?) and every single one of my mistakes was not a failure at ALL because I learned something. I was able to let go and move forward.
I started reading “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” and it has a similar theme. The concept of paradigm shifts, of being proactive instead of reactive, the inside-out way of thinking. All of these messages are so similar and have all come down on me within the same month, gently nudging me to open my eyes further to the world around me.
Challenges are a gift. Stress is self-inflicted.
I’m going to say that again, mostly for my benefit. Stress is self-inflicted. Stress is my reaction to things either within my control or not. If it’s not in my control, stress won’t change it. If it’s in my control, I’m better served to do something about it rather than hold stress about it. (Easier said than done, I’m sure, but I feel good about working toward these goals)
This holiday season, I am going to work really hard at choosing a slower, less frenetic mentality. And specifically NOT choosing stress. Choosing to be proactive, and not reactive. This probably means- for me- more planning and scheduling. Planning downtime days, and holding them sacred. Planning specific days for putting up the tree and decorating. Days for working, and days for NOT working. Without a plan and left to my own devices, I let my anxiety rule the roost and the overwhelming feeling of drowning in to-do lists makes me snap. With careful planning, however, I realize that I don’t have to do all the things at once. I only have to do the 5 or so things on my list, knowing the rest is set for a different day.
How are you planning to deal with the crazy pacing of the holidays? I’d love to hear about your tactics and strategies! Comment here or on my Facebook page- I’d love to swap coping ideas!