Enjoying the Holidays with Purpose and Intention

2 min read

| By Dr. Ambery |

Just in time for the holidays! The Gale Encyclopedia of Psychology, 4th edition publishes on December 10. While a new edition of this resource doesn’t arrive with the holidays every year, many other things do. These usual arrivals are what make the season joyous and magical, although sometimes stressful. They include celebrations, traditions, family and friends, out-of-town visits and visitors, meals and desserts, and of course, presents. I would like to offer you a present to help savor the joys and wonders of the holidays and to help maneuver through the stressors: holiday presence. Like holiday presents, psychological presence is a gift—one that you can offer yourself and others.

Amidst the hustle and bustle of the holidays, make intentional efforts to periodically settle your mind from the activities and distractions to connect with what makes the season important and meaningful for you. Be fully present and engaged with those aspects of the holidays. Enjoy and savor them—they’re the drivers behind the hustle and bustle.

These efforts can take many shapes. It could be scheduling some quiet time to take a break or maybe it’s a purposeful immersion and enjoyment of whatever holiday activity is occurring—a shift toward full engagement in the present moment rather than being partially present and partially elsewhere, mentally and emotionally. A simple measure could be taking a few deep breaths during the hecticness and perhaps reminding yourself of what is important to you, why it matters, and what you’re grateful for.

In addition to offering yourself periodic moments of holiday presence, you can offer this gift to others. Humans are social beings, and the gift of your full, genuine attention and acknowledgment can be powerful. This gift can also take many forms. It could be engaging in an activity or conversation with a friend or loved one during which your primary motivation and intention is to simply enjoy being with them. Perhaps listen and relate to them more intently or deeply than usual. It could even be offering a greeting, smile, or friendly nod toward people you may not know.

The impact of interpersonal connections can be significant. Even if the holiday season doesn’t bear significant meaning to you, or if it brings challenging feelings, give yourself the gift of presence to take care of yourself, reach out to social supports, consider sources of gratitude or meaning in your life, and be kind to yourself.

Happy holidays—and enjoy the presence!

Dr. Ambery is a contributor to The Gale Encyclopedia of Psychology and author of Mindful Alignment: Leadership in the Hyper-Connected Age. He’s an executive coach, psychologist, and leadership instructor who enjoys meditating, skiing, mountain biking, kayaking, and avoiding injuring himself—especially while meditating.

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