The holidays are a time of festive gatherings, where we expect to share meals, gifts, and make a positive connection with loved ones. But with many people clinging to old situations or emotional trauma, exchanges can become heated and disappointing. The season never seems to resemble the greeting card commercial. Instead of feeling full during the season of light, we may notice lack. No matter our wisdom tradition or what time of year, in order to live a joyful life we must be consciously aware of staying in present moment awareness. This is where joy resides!

Joy is present in every molecule of creation. It is a remembrance of the Divine Presence, an affirmation of Oneness and our infinite nature. When we rekindle joy in our daily experience, we feel fully alive. Without joy, life is flavorless and unfulfilling.

Joy exists when we are in tune with the wonder of life. Welcoming joy into our experiences can mean cooking dinner for the family, or rolling in the snow or the ocean. When we invite joy into a relationship, we consciously give up trying to change the other person. We cannot change another individual by holding on to "what should be" rather than accepting "what is."

Release Emotional Charges

Emotional suffering usually stems from unresolved attachments to past events. Emotional charges, or old negative thoughts, ideas and emotions, that have attached to our energetic body, interfere with our ability to "enjoy" or "be in joy" because they perpetuate suffering. Freedom from emotional charges creates more room for joy, and allows for balance in relationships and at work. Without the negative energies that contribute to suffering, we can begin to experience our families and loved ones by accepting that person as they are and not as we think they should be. It is difficult to listen to another person and enjoy him or her when our minds are consumed with old chatter and emotions from the past. It is easier to love in present moment awareness!

Frederick Bailes, a Science of Mind Practitioner, once said that "Spirit views life holistically and in perfect equilibrium." When we adopt this point of view, we see all problems and disagreements as imbalances that block the flow of the Divine through us.

No matter the circumstances, Spirit sees no arguments, distortion, or quarrels. When we align our consciousness with Spirit's perspective, we choose to move toward perfect equilibrium where joy resides. Ernest Holmes said that "joy is an inward sense of security, a sense of belonging to life and to each other; a desire to give; to be kind, and to be able to put ourselves in the other person's position." Make a conscious effort to shift your perceptions of others. Are you expecting too much? When the shift happens in you, it will affect your relationships positively.

Making any holiday family gathering a positive experience takes mental discipline and intention. Practice self-awareness! Be mindful of your emotions and any self-perpetuated negativity. To rekindle joy during the holidays, follow these sensible guidelines:

Know your flash points

Entertaining is the number one stressor that can initiate an unexpected tirade of unpleasant emotions, especially about fault-finding family members. Compounded with already full schedules, we feel obligated to be perfect hosts for our families who may appear to not appreciate our efforts. Our homes are our energy spheres. If we believe our hospitality is a demonstration of who we are, we have nothing to prove or hide. Release anxiety by recognizing that your presence and contribution are gifts to everyone around you.

Unrealistic expectations are another trigger. When we carry unresolved mental and emotional baggage from past circumstances and relationships, we do not give people permission to grow and change. We also bring a set of expectations that are incongruent with our present situation. Focus on releasing resentment and quit worrying about who said what to whom ten years ago. When we see a part of ourselves in every relationship, we can have compassion and touch the lives of those who may be suffering.

Stay Centered in Gratitude. Even though we may not receive thanks from anyone, we are stronger for being generous. Give with a happy heart. Know that giving and service manifests in ways not readily seen. Nobody liked your gift? Then appreciate yourself for being the amazing person you are! Your joy in giving uplifts humanity.

Being the maverick of the family, or the one who has always walked off the beaten path, can make you overly sensitive at family get-togethers. If you choose a different life than your parents, feel disliked by other established family members, or are the new kid on the block that doesn't fit the mold, you may feel ostracized. Remember, others perceive us the way we perceive ourselves. Love your unique space and stop making apologies. Be kind to everyone. Know you fit beautifully in this world and are valuable to everyone on the planet — including your family! We can never be insignificant in the eyes of the Divine. When we believe we fit perfectly into a space that is uniquely ours, we will no longer accept any stigma or negative labels others may place upon us.

In the universal perspective, the holidays are but a blink in time. Check old emotional baggage at the door and stay in the present moment where joy can grow. Move gracefully through these moments with ease. Offer others your heart without depleting your energy reserves. Above all, focus on what is important for you and not what others expect you to do. Feel centered, whole, joyful, and celebrate life!


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