“The root of suffering is attachment” – The Buddha
Hi, dear souls!
Can you believe the holidays are upon us? I can’t!!
Time has been so strange this year. On one hand, 2020 has felt exhausting and endless. On the other, it’s flown by in the blink of an eye. The loss of normal schedules, the turning inward, and the all-consuming nature of our political and social climate has thrown us all for a loop, warping time and space and everything we thought we knew to be true.
One of the bright sides of this wild time warp we’re living in is that holiday decorations seem to be cropping up EVERYWHERE, and early!!! Didn’t we used to wait until after Thanksgiving to decorate?
I, for one, am loving it. I love the magic of the holidays. I’m one of those people who never gets sick of Christmas music or the Starbucks holiday drinks that come in specialty cups.
I think all the early decorating is a sign of the times: we’re all in need of a little extra boost of joy, and we’re all pretty ready to send 2020 back into the time/space continuum it came from.
But before we can kiss the year goodbye once and for all, we’re faced with the final task of making it through the holidays in a vastly different landscape than ever before.
This season, we take on the responsibility of keeping one another safe. In order to do so, many of us are not able to gather in the usual numbers, reconnecting and rekindling our sense of community with family and loved ones. Many families have lost loved ones and are facing the heart-wrenching reality of an empty seat at the table.
All of this means that our holiday festivities will look very different from years past; perhaps painfully so. It’s easy to feel like the coming month will be the cherry on top of a year filled with disappointment and thwarted expectations.
But there’s an alternative perspective to consider here.
To shed the lens of disappointment and shift into a state of gratitude, start by asking yourself a few questions:
Why do I have such specific expectations of the holidays?
Are those expectations serving me?
Where is my disappointment stemming from?
Is what I’ve been taught to consider a good or successful holiday actually true, or is it just an arbitrary standard?
Can I de-condition myself from believing that the holidays must look a certain way?
Is it possible to release my expectations surrounding the holidays?
For most of us (not all, and that’s 100% valid!), the answer to that last question is YES. In fact, this year has already given us some practice with the art of surrender. We already KNOW that the best laid plans can go awry in an instant.
We know that we can do hard things. We can release expectation. We can loosen our grip on everything we thought these next few weeks were supposed to look like. We can surrender to this new reality. The process may not be easy, but once we let go, we may find ourselves feeling lighter.
So, beautiful souls, this is my single biggest tip for staying in gratitude over these next several weeks as we wrap up a year that, at the very least, has grown and stretched our souls in new and uncharted ways:
Release your expectations.
It’s really that simple. Simply release the vision you’ve cooked up about what Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year’s, or Kwanzaa was "supposed to" look like this year. Chances are, the desire for that vision is causing you more pain than the actual reality of your situation.
When you come to terms with your reality by releasing expectations, the dam between you and gratitude is lifted, because everything that goes right becomes a joyful, unexpected miracle. When you release the expectations that are keeping you in lack mentality, gratitude for the simplest things becomes possible.
When you loosen your grip, your palms open. You can hold space for a moment of gratitude for the mere fact that there’s food on your table, the breath in your lungs, the fact that you have family at all (who you can Zoom with!), and the pillow underneath your head when you woke up this morning.
2020 continues to teach us that this life is so precious, and nothing is guaranteed. Living in gratitude for the precious things we do have is the best way to honor all that’s been lost, and to ensure that we’re rooting ourselves in the present moment.
And that’s the only place where life exists.
Right here, right now. What are you grateful for in this simple moment?
I’m grateful that you’re here. Sending love xo