It's that time of year for festive family gatherings and holiday work functions. Pass the stuffing and gravy, serve up heaping helpings of gratitude and handout a grab bag full of gripes. Seasonal soirees bring people together, and with them differing opinions, perspectives and attitudes that can make for gift-wrapped difficulties.
Take the recent election, for example, which evidenced a country evenly split and equally disapproving. No doubt you have a mother, father, sister, brother, aunt, uncle, nephew, neighbor, cousin or coworker who voted for someone you didn't. Secret Santa? Yeah, right.
Family feuds and office arguments are as common to seasonal celebrations as ugly sweaters and overcooked turkey. One grudge, one insult or one too many sips of mulled wine can take the fire out the fire place and set a gala ablaze. So, take more than macaroni to your next potluck party. Bring some mental bitters to help digest any disagreements.
Decorate Your Spirit
Before attending or hosting a gathering, give yourself a gift --- some peace of mind for the piece of mind you're willing to give to the occasion. Decide that you are not going to be triggered by anyone, or drawn into any night-ending drama --- no matter who, no matter what, no matter why. Festoon your mind with grace and goodwill, friendship and fun. Sidestep, seque, nod and non-sequitur your intention, to jingle your bells past wind-chilled comments and grouchy grinches.
Make Your Own Snow Globe
Imagine having a winter wonderland in a bubble and it's all yours, inside your mind. The world inside your head is what you make it, so seal off your conscious thoughts from negativity. Keep all instigators outside your emotional dome. Don't let anyone shake you into a flurried state. Keep the atmosphere inside your figurine serene. You control it.
Smile Through It
Act the way you want to feel, and soon you will feel the way you act. There's science behind it. It takes 5 pairs of muscles (10 in total) to simply turn up the corners of your mouth; 3 pairs of muscles (6 in total) to turn down the corners of your mouth. Smiling is a better workout for your face than frowning. Also, smiling, like breathing and laughing, activates the release of mood altering hormones and neurotransmitters that enhance your state of mind. Buddhists practice this, which is why in all statues you see, Buddha is getting his smile on.
Go For Dessert
Some topics of conversation are highly prone to controversy and dispute: politics, religion, race, family secrets, caloric consumption. When you find yourself on the peripheral or in the midst of a contentious exchange, get some pie:
Put some distance between you and the conversation.
Invite others to join you for a more mutually entertaining and less joy draining discussion.
Embrace the once a year opportunity to voice the call for harmony, to silence the clamor of conflict.
Dish Out Diplomacy
Not all spirited conversations are destined for a dispiriting end. If you find that you are enjoying a stimulating and challenging bout of words, be mindful to serve with respect, dole out with discretion and carve with civility.