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With the end of year fast approaching, the calendar packed with festive season social events, disrupted exercise routines, increased eating and drinking, spending and associated stress, and the general sense of fatigue, it is easy to allow overwhelm, emotions and other people affect how we respond.
The Christmas and new-year season (and leading up to it) is also associated with a seasonal rise in some unfortunate social statistics which include domestic violence and family disputes, workplace falling-outs, road accidents (partly due to increased travel, but also exacerbated by stress and fatigue) and overspending.
While we can not avoid being exposed to this, we do have a choice in how we propagate these.
We can propagate of these sources of stress and anxiety, or we can -as Bruce Lee said “be like water”. We can dissipate the negative energy and allow the subsequent calmness and compassion to be what propagates from us.
You will inevitably be confronted with opportunities to do either. There will inescapable hostile or upset family and relatives. There will be rude and irrational behavior from strangers. There will be unhelpful shop assistants, long coffee waits, traffic jams and mail orders that don’t arrive int time. The fact that you are surrounded by a heightened sense of excitement (both positive and negative) is a wonderful opportunity to heighten our own state of mindfulness.
Make a commitment to yourself to pay attention when the level of excitement increases, and notice when your responses begin to escalate.
If it is a sense of joy and delight, of appreciation and gratitude, allow yourself to be filled up with it, and allow it to guide your next actions.
If on the other hand it seems that escalation is towards conflict, confrontation or perhaps just negative and hostile thoughts and emotions about a situation or person, then pause.
Pause. Say nothing. Do Nothing.
Pay attention to your breath first of all, allow it to return to normal. Then pay attention to your thoughts, by now its likely any anger and frustration is beginning to diffuse. Then consider what might be the exact opposite response to the one you normally would have manifested. It is likely to be an act of extreme compassion, of uncompromising kindness.
Right then and there, offer that up. Don’t let the question whether you have the courage to do this get in the way. You probably don’t, at least not until you do.
Not only will this transform your experience of this season, it will propagate far beyond it in ways that you can not possibly imagine. There is on thing you can be absolutely certain: This is one path of action that you will never regret.