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4 tips for keeping spirits bright

4 tips for keeping spirits bright

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With all the negative things that 2020 brought — a pandemic, social unrest, a divisive election — it’s easy to forget the many things you can be thankful for. Giving thanks for what we have and for the people in our lives, and realizing that this is something that will bring us joy changes your perception.

“As we approach the holidays, and all the expectations that come with them, it’s worth remembering that in life you can’t control everything,” Dr. Allen Lycka, co-author of "The Secrets to Living a Fantastic Life," said.

Here are a few ways to lessen the pain of what happens to us through positive actionable steps that include:

Practice the power of gratitude. With all the negative things that 2020 brought — a pandemic, social unrest, a divisive election — it’s easy to forget the many things you can be thankful for, Lycka said.

“Giving thanks for what we have and for the people in our lives, and realizing that this is something that will bring us joy changes your perception,” he said.

"We all need to press pause, reflect, and be grateful. Practice this regularly and experience a radical change in your life.”

Indulge in self-compassion. Showing compassion for others is wonderful, but it’s also important to show yourself compassion if you feel you failed to meet other people’s holiday expectations, or if world events cause you more worries than you can handle, Lycka said.

“Self-compassion is the practice of noticing what you’re feeling and remembering that you’re human and therefore fallible, just like everyone else. It’s about treating yourself with the same kindness you would give to a beloved friend. Unfortunately, few of us have been trained to respond to ourselves in this way. Much more often, our response is to beat ourselves up." That is not productive.

Make an effort to forgive. Holidays are a time when grudges can become magnified. If that’s the case for you, it’s time to put any pain you still feel behind you and consider forgiveness, Lycka said. It won’t just make the holidays better, but your life as well.

“When we refuse to forgive and instead indulge in thoughts or acts of revenge, retaliation, and hate, we keep the cycle going and going,” he said.

 “I once read that forgiveness does not mean you have to break bread with the transgressor. What it does mean for you, in the most positive sense, is when you wish them well you also give yourself peace.”

Practice kindness. “Finally, this holiday season would be a great time to begin practicing spontaneous acts of kindness,” Lycka said.

This has been shown to boost self-image, lead us to perceive others more compassionately, promote a greater sense of connection with others, and feel grateful for our good fortune."

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