The holidays, especially the crowds, can be stressful to the point of miserable. Peace is supposed to be the reason for season, and yet it’s the polar opposite experience for many of us.
You can change all that simply by making peace your primary intention this holiday season. It’s easier than you might imagine. Think back to the last time you were at peace and how it made everything easier. Stress and anxiety are what make life hard. Peace is the one true quality that makes effort feel effortless. And science tells us that a dynamically peaceful mindset makes our higher brain work better, making us calmer, smarter, more creative and optimistic as we face stressors.
What better gift to give yourself this season; and you’ll be giving it to others. Peace, by its very nature, is contagious. Your peaceful vibration extends the gift of peace to everyone around you. Just ask anyone who was lucky enough to sit at the feet of the Dalia Lama or Mother Teresa or Nelson Mandela.
The first step in this direction involves waking up ahead of the morning rush and starting each day in peace. Set the day in motion by making peace your primary goal. Here’s how:
Studies show that people who start the day with a good intention experience more positive emotions during the day, exhibit more interest in their work, are more likely to feel connected and supportive toward others, and are also more likely to sleep better that night. Quite a reward for a five-minute investment.
Fear is the opposite of peace; that’s obvious. Thus, another step in preserving inner peace involves actively letting go of fear by not believing the stories fearful thoughts spin. Start by adopting this motto:
If fear is talking, for the love of God, stop listening.
When we don’t believe a fearful thought, it doesn’t turn into stress or anger or depression.
Be prepared for crowded streets and stores. If you let it, the holiday crowds will stress you and wear you down, and it can even lead to a panic attack. There are practical as well as spiritual things we can do to keep our commitment to being at peace, even in holiday crowds.
On the practical side, we can plan shopping treks carefully by avoiding weekends. Of course, stores are crowded most on Saturdays and Sundays, so if you can, take a vacation day or two to shop a week-day. Especially avoid the three worst shopping days, which are:
On the spiritual side, if crowds frighten you, protect yourself with love by taking a friend with you when you go shopping. Friends are powerful stress busters, simply because they help us to feel safe.
If you are in a crowd and becoming stressed, you can quickly collapse the stress-provoking thinking that’s about to erupt into a reaction by using the Clear Button. Here’s how:
On the next breath, let your mind go blank for a moment for a few seconds. Let go and relax into the present moment. As you refocus on the world around you, make the commitment to be at peace as you relate to whatever comes next.
If you start to have an anxiety attack, deep-breathing can help.
Sometimes, it’s our families that crowd us out. Below is a simple formula for sustaining peace of mind with difficult relatives. It consists for 4 simple reminders:
I wish you peace.
 Richard J. Davidson and Antoine Lutz, “Buddha’s Brain: Neuroplasticity and Meditation,” IEEE Signal Processing Magazine 172 (January 2008): 176–79.
 Lyubomirsky, Sonja, The How of Happiness: A New Approach to Getting the Life You Want Penguin Group US. Kindle Edition. (2007-12-27), pg. 91.
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