How to Thrive Rather than Just Survive the Holiday Season

It's obvious that the holiday season is upon us. The idea is to thrive and enjoy during this time rather than just survive. Give yourself two great gifts for the next weeks - a lack of stress and actually celebrating the true spirit of this time of year – joy, love, and peace.

Setting the Stage for a Holiday Full of Cheer

Rather than checking names off a list, maxing out your credit cards, and rushing from one event or store to another, give yourself the opportunity to do something different this year while there is still time. Plan ahead!

Start now with the planning but first acknowledge any emotions you have about the holidays. Maybe you've lost a loved one in the past year. Maybe you're financially pinched. Maybe you've already agreed to host the relatives you find most annoying. Deal with your emotions first.

Take a few minutes to move the emotional energy out physically and naturally. That means have that good cry, shiver out the fear, or pound out any anger. But be sure to keep your thinking constructive, which means just bring the object of your upset into your mind and release the emotion.

Letting Go of the Old Thoughts

Don’t indulge your old thoughts, such as “I want to skip the festivities this year,” or “I hate how Uncle Ben gets drunk and tells the same old stories.” Just make sounds or tell yourself, “These are just emotions. I’ll feel better if I just release them. Everything will be okay. My job is to stay true to myself.”

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Then you can get over the pitfalls and install the reality in your head  - this is a wonderful occasion to commit to generating oodles of joy, love, and peace. One of my favorite truths to keep repeating is "I love you." This offsets all my petty thinking. It's so versatile. I can be walking down the street and apply it to all that I pass. I can think it while I'm writing my holiday cards. I can use it anytime.

Giving Without Expectation

It’s the season to give selflessly. This means you can increase the amount of love you feel by giving without expectations, without the need for reciprocation, and without needing the gesture to be appreciated. According to Attitude Reconstruction, selfless giving is opposite the anger core attitude of self-centeredness, where we believe that the world revolves around us. These kinds of thoughts make us feel separate and isolated from others.

Reciprocally, giving without a selfish motive generates love because genuine giving is one of the four core attitudes associated with the emotion of love. It expands our heart and just makes us feel good.

Loving Ways to Truly Give

Good gift giving takes some forethought. Get out your planner and designate when you'll partake in every aspect of the holidays so you don't work yourself into a last-minute frenzy. Here are some tips about ways you can make your holiday giving truly memorable:

1. When writing your cards, reflect on something you appreciate about the person and express that.

2. Make a list of who you want to give a gift to. Then one at a time put yourself in their shoes and decide what would be meaningful for him or her. It helpful to deal with "to do lists" by relabeling them as "to love lists."  It reminds you of why you are doing the task (to express love), how to do it (with love), who I am doing it for (for the sake of love). It makes the task of gift giving, as well as each day, a lot more cheery.

3. Ask yourself "How can I impact others in a positive way?" Maybe find a cause to volunteer to help, such as visiting a hospital, serving dinner at a shelter, or collecting toys for those less fortunate. Volunteering is an easy way to put your concerns about your life on the back burner and get perspective about the larger picture and the joy of the season.

4. Consider giving something homemade like they did in the "old days." Bake something, write a poem, make a video, put together some photos, give gift certificates for future outings or chores you'll do, or get crafty and make something.

5. Give gratitudes, appreciations, or kind words about how you feel about your friendship or the person's actions, attitudes, or personality.

6. Give yourself a gift by reminiscing about great holiday memories and how much you love the other people in your life. Pause and be grateful for being alive. Give thanks for all the good things in your life. And maybe do something special for yourself!

7. The idea is to stay present so you bask in the spirit of the season. Focus on the activity of the moment, open your heart, and enjoy the joy, love, and peace.

©2015 by Jude Bijou, M.A., M.F.T.
All Rights Reserved.

Article written by the author of

Attitude Reconstruction: A Blueprint for Building a Better Life by Jude Bijou, M.A., M.F.T.Attitude Reconstruction: A Blueprint for Building a Better Life
by Jude Bijou, M.A., M.F.T.

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About the Author

Jude Bijou, M.A., M.F.T., author of: Attitude ReconstructionJude Bijou is a licensed marriage and family therapist (MFT), an educator in Santa Barbara, California and the author of Attitude Reconstruction: A Blueprint for Building a Better Life. In 1982, Jude launched a private psychotherapy practice and started working with individuals, couples, and groups. She also began teaching communication courses through Santa Barbara City College Adult Education. Word spread about the success of Attitude Reconstruction, and it wasn’t long before Jude became a sought-after workshop and seminar leader, teaching her approach to organizations and groups. Visit her website at

* Watch an interview with Jude Bijou: How to Experience More Joy, Love and Peace

* Click here for a video demonstration of the Shiver and Shake Process.