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Art of Living : Get into the Holiday Spirit — Finding True Joy!

Get into the Holiday Spirit — Finding True Joy!

By Karen A. Dahlman

December is a month that is synonymous with the holidays, gatherings, gifting, good cheer and wishing peace on earth. It is also a time of frenzy as you attempt to continue with your day-to-day life while also preparing for the added events that this time of the year brings. With all of the hustle and bustle found during this month, coupled with long waits in lines, it may be hard to experience (let along spread) joy as you are trying to be the super human with super patience, getting everything done!

Yet, it is possible to run around this month and still find joy within your spirit as you prepare for the holidays, and it is possible to carry this joy over from the holidaymaking throughout the rest of the year. Feeling joy can be a common experience once you learn the basic blueprint for creating it, enhancing it and living it.

Finding joy is a compelling force. It drives people to find the "good side" of life. If you think about it, people want to feel good on all levels. It is a typical desire to seek happiness and joy and move away from any pain, fear, frustration and hurt they may be experiencing physically, emotionally or spiritually. Lives are spent in a constant search for joy. So often, the end result is sought while the path to get there is overlooked. So much is missed when the experience is overlooked, and too many opportunities for joy are also missed!

How can you experience every joy along your daily path?

Perfect timing! This month is the ideal time to reflect upon experiencing joy in your world since this time of the year can bring great joy as you practice the art of giving and sharing. As the old English Proverb reminds you, "A joy this is shared is a joy made double." As a matter of fact, this month asks you to shift your focus onto others as you share with them through the mere act of gifting, not merely receiving! This is a thoughtful gesture that not only brings joyfulness to the recipient, but also to the giver.

Think along these lines of what you can "gift" within your power to spread more joy and express more joy along your daily path. Here are six simple experiences you can mentally choose amidst the hurry and scurry of this month to contribute to the experience of joy, now, and year round, for those around you and for yourself.

Define your joy — know what excites you and brings you happiness. Understand its impetus. What brings you joy will be different from what brings joy to your best friend. By knowing your source of joy, you begin to establish an intimate and ongoing relationship with it. You can easily and readily pursue those sources when you know what they are. Take responsibility to experience this joy and share in it with others.

Cherish the moment — finding joy in your world will always be discovered in the present, the gift of the current moment. Try to live in the "now" of your path instead of focusing on the end result. Too much is missed when you live for tomorrow, next month, next year, when the kids grow up, when you retire, etc. The moment is cherished once you are involved with your life right now and not awaiting the "perfect" time or moment. Know that there is never a perfect time other than now!

Focus on importance — make and take time for what you find important. Know that what you focus on and where you spend your time will be those things and experiences that will prosper. Focus on what makes you and your loved ones happy, and you will find more happiness within your life. Avoid focusing on those things that define you, such as labels or perceived limitations, or you will find yourself limited and confined.

See small miracles — notice actions around you. The small and simple things in life, such as a smile or a helping hand from a stranger can be just what you needed when you spirits were down. Or the "chance" meeting of another at a party could lead you to networking opportunities. Be open, receptive and look for the miracles. Remember, what you notice and where you focus will cause more of the same to grow within your world. Remember, joy begins as a small seed.

Shift your thinking — change your mind to "give" joy rather than "seek" joy. When you can give joy to others, you become joy. Be what it is you seek. Joy is always found in the act of "happy" expression.

Appreciate with sincerity — express gratitude to others within your life. Sincerely let others know your appreciation for them. All people love to be appreciated.When you express your sincere appreciation to someone, you are accepting them in the moment for how they are. Appreciation means acceptance. Others will want to be around you when they know that you will accept them with sincerity.

As you experience this month of holidaymaking and gifting, known for stirring joyfulness, try focusing on the path of doing as opposed to the grand event of receiving at the end of it. Consider experiencing joy as an outcome of being and doing as opposed to an income of obtaining and receiving. The lessons you learn today while making these simple mental choices can serve as your blueprint towards finding joy in your world during the remaining 364 days of the year. •

Copyright © 2005 Karen A. Dahlman. All rights reserved.

Karen A. Dahlman, art therapist, licensed counselor and entrepreneurial business owner aspires to teach others to lead a creative life.