Make the Most of the Holidays - Part 2

As the countdown to Christmas continues, the festivities are full swing and many of us are caught in the undertow of holiday activities. There really is no better time of year to bring our full attention to savouring each moment.

This week's focus on savouring is intended to not only help you enjoy the holidays, but to increase the intensity, duration and lasting appreciation of them. Rather than focusing on reducing or "down-regulating" negative emotions, savoring helps us increase or "up-regulate" our positive emotions. 

You may think you are already savouring the holidays and, in many ways, you probably are. The challenge is to bring out the full potential of each moment we have to celebrate. If you review  your last gathering you might reflect on to what extent you appreciated the atmosphere, the guests in attendance, perhaps the music or decor. When you were noshing on finger foods, did you stop to really notice the sight, smell, and taste of the food? Did your host or hostess go out of their way to present things beautifully? Did you really take the time to listen to your companions and enjoy their company? The following day did you bask in gratitude for having had such a time?...

If your reality is that you had road rage on the way to the event, gobbled down far too may truffles, gorged yourself on egg nog, told a potentially offensive joke, and woke up with a killer hangover and feelings of regret, take comfort in knowing you are not alone. We often follow the slightly misguided idea that enjoying things means taking in as much as we can in as little time as we can. One of the problems with this mentality is that we miss the smaller things that make our moments so special and are left looking for more. 

If you would like to increase the extent to which you savour the holidays, there are three main places you can put your attention:

1. Anticipation: We increase our enjoyment of life when we anticipate positive events. For example, rather than worrying about not having a new party outfit, you might try anticipating the person you most look forward to catching up with or the dessert you are hoping to taste.

2. Being in the Moment: When you arrive at an event, take a moment to check in with your senses. How are you feeling? What do you notice about the sights, the smells and the sounds around you?

3. Reminiscing: After the event, reflect on what you most enjoyed. What did you appreciate about the party and the guests? You might write a thank you card to the host or hostess letting them know what you enjoyed.

Although savouring is, in many ways, a simple concept, it is not always easy to implement. Some of the challenges include our tendency to constantly be looking for trouble (which keeps us safe in some ways, but hampers our enjoyment) and feeling guilt when we indulge in pure pleasure. If you notice these barriers, or others, arising, you might try asking yourself if the anxiety or guilt is helping you or anyone else in the moment. If the answer is "no" (which it most likely is), it might be a good time to practice "letting go" and giving savouring a try.

Enjoy! Enjoy! Enjoy!