I took a break from work this afternoon to lift weights and walk on the treadmill.
The loud pumping pop and indie dance music wasn't cutting it anymore so I turned to Audible.
Within several minutes, I started listening to an audiobook that I've been meaning to listen to for years:
Eckhart Tolle's "The Power of Now."
Tolle explains the time of his life when he felt low. It felt like an eternal void took over his entire mind, body, and spirit. He didn't understand the point in living any longer.
It struck me like a ton of bricks to hear him say this.
Life doesn't always look like the pretty sunset or holiday greeting pictures our friends post on Facebook.
In fact, life doesn't usually meet the expectations we set for ourselves. The root of sadness is when reality doesn't meet our expectations.
This is why so many of us feel a similar void to Tolle during the holiday season.
We find ourselves lonely, sad and isolated in our own minds without the words to explain why.
We find ourselves thinking we need to work harder to get a head start before the new year.
We find ourselves guilty because we can't give the presents we know will make our loved ones smile from ear to ear.
The void is real and no one in the media acknowledges this.
The media decides to paint a fake picture that the holidays are joyous, pleasurable and exciting. That may be true for some but it's not for many others.
I'm here to be the voice for you if you can't speak the unexplained sadness you feel during the holidays.
I'm here to say your feelings are valid and they are real. You are allowed to feel sad without trying to fake happiness.
You don't need to be or feel anyway that doesn't feel true to you.
This isn't to be cliche or inauthentic. This is to be real and honest.
When you begin to explain your feelings of sadness, you accept yourself as you are. I'm not here to tell you to change. I'm here to tell you that it's ok.
It's ok to feel sad. It's ok to feel isolated. It's ok to feel...fill in the blank.
When you accept yourself as you are, you realize your feelings are separate from your identity. You are not sadness. You're simply experiencing sadness. Just like clouds, sadness passes. It always does.
The holiday season puts way too many demands on Americans to buy gifts, go to 1,000 parties and be something else.
I'm here to share that you don't have to listen to any of these manufactured messages or demands.
I'm here to share that your feelings are the most important experience. They're more important than any party, gathering or gift.
What you're going through is real life. It's not manufactured or manipulated.
Your real life experience is a treasure. Not only does it need acceptance, it needs to be celebrated.
When you celebrate sadness, you experience gratitude in everything life presents.
There are going to be many ups and downs during the winter, but you need to trust that you're right where you're supposed to be.
It's in the thick of sadness that you realize you've been here before and you'll be out of here again. This experience is impermanent and it will pass.
Give yourself the greatest gift of all this holiday season: Honesty.
Be honest with your feelings. Share them and don't try to feel anything but how you actually feel.
Notice and observe... then see how your experiences during the winter transform.
Max DuBowy is a best-selling author, an executive mindfulness coach and the founder of Your Success Launch. His writing regularly appears on the Huffington Post, and he's also appeared in other media outlets including Elite Daily, Life Hack, Chief Learning Officer, and YFS Magazine.