Four Tips To Enjoy Christmas (And Your Life) More

By December 24, 2014Guest Columns, Life


By Carson Zi. As I sit here at the breakfast table with my beautiful wife and two adorable children enjoying the first morning of our Christmas vacation, I’m feeling inspired to share a few tips that we have found very helpful for maximum enjoyment both of the holiday season and of our lives in general.
Make Something – This is especially poignant during the holiday season but can be true at any time of the year.  It’s become so accepted to purchase gifts for others that we often forget there are alternatives to going to the mall and buying presents for our loved ones.  And it doesn’t have to be a physical gift that you make either.  It can even be as simple as taking some time to come up with a new Christmas tradition or activity that you can use to make the holidays your own.
We, my family and I, were recently motivated to create custom Halloween costumes for the entire family.  This took us two full weeks of working on each costume in our spare time and it not only brought the entire family closer together, it is now something that we want to do every year.  And not just at Halloween.  The increased sense of unity that this family activity instilled in us has spurred us into numerous creative projects since then.  From homemade decorations to homemade Christmas cards to simply making dinner together as a family, we have all noticed an increase in family connectedness as we engage in projects together.
Zi Family, Halloween 2014

Zi Family, Halloween 2014

Be Present – The constant stimulation and distraction that inevitably comes with living in the information age can make it very difficult to remain present with what, and who, is right in front of us in this very moment.  From the continuous vibrations of our smartphones alerting us to every email, text message, FB like, instagram comment and software upgrade, to the advertising industry’s incessant attempts to manipulate us into having wants and desires that don’t actually exist within us, it’s very easy to miss what’s actually happening.Setting a specific intention to put down our phones, iPads and even our own thoughts to an extent, and instead choose to emotionally connect with the ones physically around us, we can quickly find ourselves happier and enjoying each moment more.  Even something as simple as making a point to share eye contact and a smile with someone you pass on the street can leave us feeling more alive, vibrant and cheerful than if we walk down the street with our mind absorbed in the email we’re reading on our phone… not to mention how much better it makes the ones around us feel.


Remember to share eye contact

Remember to share eye contact

Stay Relaxed – From the time we wake up to the time we go to bed, most of us spend our lives rushing from one thing to the next… from breakfast to school to work to your 9am meeting to that pressing report due tomorrow to making supper to bathing the kids to putting them to bed to exhaustedly falling onto the couch to enjoy a cocktail for twenty minutes before going to bed yourself… it can be very easy to become adjusted to rushing all day every day.  This can have some very negative effects on how we experience life, some that we don’t even notice.

Most of us can do very little about how our actual daily routine is conducted… the kids have to be fed, we have to go to work, the laundry has to be done.  But the attitude we embody as we go through our day, that we can actually do something about.  Choosing to take a relaxed attitude towards life, despite having to rush around in order to get everything done, can make all the difference as to whether we enjoy our lives or not.  It can be as simple as remembering to take full breaths as we rush from one place to another (you know that we take shallow breaths  when we’re stressed right?) and as all encompassing as developing a daily meditation habit designed to bring your unconscious mind into your conscious awareness, but however you get there, choosing to stay relaxed despite having to move quickly through our day can make a huge difference to the quality of our experience.

Choose a relaxed attitude

Choose a relaxed attitude

Communicate – How often do you stay quiet instead of verbally expressing yourself for fear of causing conflict?  How does it make you feel when you hold onto something you would ideally like to express?  Do you think there is more benefit to staying quiet and staving off conflict than there is to speaking your mind and then working through any disagreements?  This is one that takes some serious effort and a bit of self-awareness to accomplish, but I truly believe that honesty is the best policy and that in the end we all benefit when we compassionately speak our mind to others.

Whether we are at work, at home, out with friends or shopping at the grocery store, I’ve found that choosing to openly communicate with those around me has resulted in some incredibly positive personal growth.  Choosing to verbalize challenges or difficulties we are experiencing, both personal ones and ones that involve others, can not only help to knock walls down between us, it can also help to build closer friendships and even support networks.  When we choose to hold our struggles in and project that we are issue-less to others, we alienate and dehumanize ourselves, sometimes to the point of isolation.  When we openly and honestly communicate with the people around us, others tend to soften and open up as well… the beauty and meaning that comes from these exchanges can be life-changing in my experience. I have managed to develop lasting and meaningful work relationships (even with people who almost everyone else would rather avoid), my marriage has been strengthened to the point where nothing could shake us apart, and I can, and do, have insightful and productive conversations with random strangers on a regular basis.  Choosing to share our lives with others on an emotional level starts with open communication and it ends in an outpouring of love and connection.

Don't be afraid to share yourself with others

Don’t be afraid to share yourself with others

So, in closing, I would like to wish each and every one of you the most magical holiday season you have ever experienced.  May you all enjoy the warmth of real human connection this year.  Merry Christmas!
With love,
Carson Zi

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