When I think about all the times I was wrapped up in the pursuit of more, it’s clear that I really did want more. I just didn’t want more of what I was pursuing. It took me awhile to recognize the pattern, but it was usually in times of heart-break, great uncertainty, self-doubt, or worry that I craved more.
So, I …
- worked more
- shopped more
- spent more
- ate more
- owned more
- owed more
My quest for more snowballed, and when I felt guilty for spending more, I ate more. When I felt guilty for working too much and spending less time with people I loved, I spent more on them. I was always caught up in some sort of vicious circle, but was too busy and consumed with more to know what was going on.
In those times, it wasn’t more hours on the job, or shoes in my closet, or a second piece of pie that I really wanted. While I never could have articulated it then, what I wanted was more love, connection, laughter, and adventure, but that was too hard to measure. Instead I worked more, spent more, and accumulated more, but I was never really satisfied. It was never enough.
I wanted more comfort and joy.
The holidays can bring out the very best and worst in us without us even recognizing it. They have a way of sweeping us off our feet. If you notice that you are hyper-focused on more of the things you can quantify, take a minute and ask yourself what you really want.
If the answer is more comfort and joy, this little guide will help.
Pay attention to your behavior around the following topics and pause to ask yourself what you really want.
Sugary, fatty, rich food may call your name, especially over the holiday season. We gravitate towards it in the winter months, or when we are feeling down. There is a reason it’s called comfort food. Overdone though, the comfort turns to belly aches, fatigue, weight gain and more cravings.
What do you really want?
Perhaps your cravings aren’t for cookies or 3 servings of pie. Maybe instead, you want to feel full, abundant, complete. Taste your favorites and then take a break. Get up and walk around. Write about the first bite and the memories it evokes. Smile when you remember making the pie for the first time with your grandmother, or the look on a friend’s face when you delivered a tin of homemade cookies.
Find the comfort and joy early on instead of working harder for more.
One Christmas, when my daughter was very young, I wanted to give her the world to make up for all of my mistakes. I didn’t have the money for one gift, let alone a piles of presents, so I applied for every store credit card I could think of. My credit cards were close to their limits, but if I could find a few hundred dollars of credit at a few stores, I thought I could give my daughter the Christmas she deserved. What was I thinking? At 3 years old, she couldn’t possibly enjoy the onslaught of gifts, and by January 1st my spending hangover set in.
If you tend to overspend to show your love, you know how I felt. Spending more to prove how you feel never works.
What do you really want?
If spending is your way of showing and feeling love, consider how long the feeling has ever lasted. I still enjoy gift giving, but now I see it for what it is and it is never about what’s inside the box. Never. It’s about the smiles, the hugs, and the time spent with people I love.
Give what you can, but not for the purpose of proving or pleasing. Instead of the perfect gift, find a meaningful gift like telling someone how you really feel about them, a playlist of the music that reminds you of someone, a love note, or a walk around the lake.
The holidays may seem like one event after another. We compromise our energy (especially introverts) because we feel guilty saying no. We overdo the spending, eating, drinking, decorating and under-do the sleep and self-care. We keep going and going and going, and wonder why we feel rundown, or get sick.
What do you really want?
If hosting or attending festive events is fueled by a desire to connect with others, but you are completely sick of people by the end of the year, there may be better ways for more connection. Instead of doing everything with all the people, be selective. Schedule a FaceTime or Skype session with the people you might miss this holiday season, or ask them if they would be open to getting together early in the new year.
If you want more comfort and joy.
I don’t know if you can relate to any of this, but it’s been my experience that with less of the excess, I find more peace, love, and connection; more comfort and joy.
Write yourself a letter today, before things get crazy. Remind yourself what you really want more of. How can you shift from overdo to under-do? How can less equal more comfort and joy? How do you really want to spend your time not just over the holidays, but all year long?
I plan to fully engage in the holiday season by celebrating with people I love, enjoying my favorite treats, and exchanging gifts, but in a way that feels good. When we realize that comfort and joy is not something we have to work for, less is enough.
We don’t have to turn our lives upside down for more comfort and joy. We can find it sitting quietly, listening to our favorite holiday songs, waking up early to enjoy the stillness of morning, or taking a walk.
The comfort and joy you seek is waiting and all you need to do is pay attention to it.