By Thanksgiving weekend, I am so ready for Hallmark Christmas movies.
Formulaic, where the girl has a struggle, meets a guy, they have struggles together and in the end, they kiss. Crazy things go wrong and get fixed in the end. They take you on an emotional journey that you trust will turn out great.
I’ve watched these movies for 3 weeks now. And I’m tired. Too much of a good thing.
The true meaning of Christmas (which is not my true meaning – i.e. Jesus) but the true Hallmark meaning… Family, friends… blah, blah, blah. Christmas Spirit Burnout.
I try to live each day from a place of gratitude, and appreciation, so in my head, I’m already there. I’m not one of these ungrateful workaholic types. And even if I were, after one or two movies, I get the point already.
Slow down, enjoy, blah, blah, blah. I say all of this cynically because I realized that after a while, even the greatest of messages, love your family, is boring. Why do church leaders recommend regular church attendance? Humans are impatient, narcissistic and self-centered by nature. Every. Single. Day. It takes a lot of effort to get my kid a glass of milk at the end of a day. I’ve worked hard and I’m tired. Get your own milk, I want to yell.
So, I train my children to do jobs for themselves. Now they can get their own milk. When they complain, I tell them the goal of childhood is to figure out how to be an adult, i.e. self-sufficient. They LOVE that answer, lol. Unfortunately, all this training is even more work than just doing it myself. How many more times will I have to ask them to put their shoes away?
I heard an interview of an astronaut the other day, which got me thinking about why it’s so hard to see the big picture. He talks about orbiting the earth in the Russian space station with limited supplies, limited space and literal life and death situations. The space station caught fire and the fire was blocking their way to the escape pod. Figure it out or die.
He survived to tell how they didn’t get into petty squabbles up there. Life and death situations and there were no fights?!? The biggest battle was inside his own head. Keep working every day even though I’m tired. Keep a good attitude so I can make it home, even though I’d rather complain.
His big take away was that we get so caught up in the day to day struggles that we forget the big picture. When he was orbiting the earth, literally seeing the big picture, it was easy to focus on what is important. Staying alive and working for man-kind. (From Building a Story Brand podcast by Donald Miller. Highly recommend!)
Combine my everyday struggles with the astronaut’s perspective and it turns out, the little stuff IS the big stuff. The physical tiredness, the annoying strangers. The little rock in your shoe causes the blister which prevents you from walking.
The Hallmark movies have a point, but they don’t tell you how. How do I keep a good attitude in the face of my five-year-old who is throwing a fit because Christmas is STILL a week away? How do I drive from place to place when the number of crazies has increased 150% over last week?
For me, it’s not the big priorities that stress me out. My passion/purpose/life goals are what drive me to keep going. It’s the little things that drive me mad. Over the last 1-2 years I’ve been working at reducing my internal stress through meditation, journaling and exercise. Plus, just taking my to-do list and deleting… a lot… cut.it.out. Focus on 1-2 things per day and let the rest take care of itself. It’s not easy, but for me it’s the how.
On top of cutting back, I also need inspiration. I need to replace the negative self-talk with positives. Listening to encouraging podcasts, creating, surrounding myself with fewer, but more meaningful items. Art can add meaning to a chaotic, stressful environment. If my art isn’t doing it for you, keep your eye out for someone who does.
Through this process of turning down the chaos and turning up the positive has brought me so much inner peace. But it’s a daily process. Every day I remind myself to keep working the system.
Now it’s your turn, what do you love/hate about this time of year? What are you doing to find some peace?