Christmas is supposed to be a season of joy, but some people still find difficulty being joyous in this season. We often stress out about traveling, gift-buying, and get-togethers. It’s really one of the great ironies of the season; it’s supposed to be joyous and refreshing, but we’re stressed out! And oftentimes, we come out of the Christmas season not really all that satisfied with how our year ended.
What can we do to find satisfaction and happiness in this special season? The good news is that we have the power to change our situation; we have the ability to seize the day and make positive changes in our lives. I’ll suggest three of them (some of which I have done myself).
- Make goals for the Christmas season.
Those who have goals in life are statistically more satisfied in their lives than those who do not have goals. As Time Magazine reported back in 2014, those who have goals were 19% more likely to be satisfied in their lives.
Christmas is no exception to this. One goal you could make for the Christmas season is to budget beforehand. Let’s say you want to make a spending limit of $1,000 for gifts. What you can do is set aside some money each paycheck starting as early as July until you reach that goal.
When November and December roll around, you’ve got $1,000 ready to go! Boom, you won’t be applying for Christmas until April! This is one thing that I have put into practice myself. It took the stress off of us greatly, and we could buy gifts for our family without worrying.
There are all sorts of goals you can have for the Christmas season; budgeting was one we tried and it has worked rather well.
- It’s not about the gifts.
While we exchange gifts with friends and family, the season is ultimately not about those gifts. We give gifts in remembrance of the ultimate gift of all (the gift of salvation from Jesus Christ when he was born more than 2000 years ago), but the gifts are not the end, the telos, the meaning.
Those who have a materialistic approach to life are some of the least satisfied people in life, according to the Time Magazine report. Some researchers even found that the greater expenditures for gifts actually led to a 2% decline in satisfaction.
Those who held a modest income but felt they had a purpose in life had higher satisfaction rates than those who were wealthier but felt like they lacked purpose. One can physically hold money, but purpose in life is an immaterial thing.
We as humans cannot be truly satisfied by material things. Focus on that which is not material: relationships and religion being the biggest two (in my life experience).
- Be grateful
One of the best ways to be satisfied in life is to be grateful for what you have. Two psychologists, Dr. Robert A. Emmons of the University of California, Davis, and Dr. Michael E. McCullough of the University of Miami, found that those who expressed gratitude for what they had in their lives were more optimistic and felt better about their lives.
In one of their studies, one group wrote down things they were grateful for each week. The other wrote about irritations during the week. And, surprise! The group that focused on the positive were more satisfied in life.
That same principle will also apply to the Christmas season. We may be prone to being a downer about what we received or did not receive this year. You may have asked for gift A but instead got gift Z. But consider this… We still had a Christmas this year, we still exchanged gifts, and we still have friends and family that we love. Gratitude about those things will change your entire perspective.
What other things do you do during the Christmas season to be joyful? Share your thoughts and experiences with me below!