When my kids were tiny, but big enough to be enthusiastic Christmas tree decorators, I told a little white lie. I said there were special fairies that came and decorated Christmas trees for us. All we had to do was leave the decorations out and they would do the rest. The year before the tree had looked so awful, I couldn’t bear it. Everything lopsided and crammed into one 3 year old sized corner. I wanted the tree to look nice that year…hence the fairy story. What can I say? Christmas does funny things to you. It makes even the most sane of us go a little bit loopy. It only happened that one year (ok, maybe 2) before I relented and accepted the joy of a wonky and lopsided family tree. Now they're teenagers, they barely notice when the tree goes up and have to be cajoled into helping. 🤪
And how about this year?
Can you feel it? The pressure to make Christmas “perfect” and the fear that it can't be. This festive season feels particularly loaded for so many reasons.
The word "permacrisis" has been declared the "word of the year" by the Collin's dictionary - it means an extended period of instability and insecurity. I only came across it recently and it makes my whole body contract. This is exactly what has caused life to be so difficult and uncertain.
Have we ever known such a time before? Maybe, but on the back of a global pandemic that bought us all to our knees it seems we're all affected in one way or another. In response, there's a doubling down on Christmas spirit. The decorations were out earlier, Christmas ads abound and there's a nostalgic headiness to it all. Who doesn't want to get lost in the stable rituals that connect us to security and comfort?
But behind that there's an anxiety and pressure that we have to soothe and cover over all of this turmoil. A feeling that maybe if we can just create a perfect experience, with less money to do it and no time, then it will make us feel able to cope.
The Perfection Dilemma
With the quest for perfection comes a problem. It has a tendency to suck the joy from it all. The more we grasp for the elusive ‘perfect’, the more it slips through our fingers in the rush to make everything bigger and better: The delightful table setting The ideal gifts The outstanding food The charming conversation Suddenly it all becomes hard work and impossible to achieve, especially when everything is more expensive and money is spread too thinly.
The Perfection Antidote
You might not be feeling the frenzy yet. Perhaps it still feels a long way off. Or maybe for you there’s a big hole where Christmas should be because of loss and difficult times. Whatever your situation, you can choose how this festive season carries you through. What can you do if you don’t want to get sucked into the whirlwind? Or if you need to rediscover what it all means? The antidote to Perfection is Mindfulness. That quality of paying attention on purpose to exactly what is, without judgement. It doesn't sound like much but when you shift from looking outside of yourself and your experience and come back to how things are, there's so much relief and joy that's possible.
Instead of scrolling your socials and seeing all the shiny perfect Christmas experiences out there, you can come back to truly enjoying the messy imperfection of your own. It opens the door for finding the small moments to be grateful for, even when things aren't able to be exactly as you would like.
How to create a mindful Christmas
Mindfulness becomes easier and more of a default state with practice. No one wakes up one day and instantly finds themselves in the moment without judging it. We create it moment by moment.
We're hard wired to look for threat and judge ourselves against others. That's what kept us alive in our cave man days. Your survival instinct doesn't care if you're happy, that's something you need to cultivate and nurture.
It's possible to shift to a more helpful way of thinking and cope with whatever challenges life throws at you. That's how you can get back to finding joy, even when it feels hopeless.
Here’s 4 of my top tips for a Christmas that’s perfectly imperfect so you can find the joy and enjoy it all:
1. Set an Intention Make a decision about how you want this Christmas to be. How do you want to show up for the people in your life? What qualities would you like to experience in yourself and others? A useful way to do this is to close your eyes and imagine yourself in your Christmas experience. Let your imagination paint a vivid picture of how it will look, feel, sound and taste. Open your eyes and write down everything you imagined. Letting go of any objections your mind has about why it can’t happen or what might go wrong. Just let yourself build that strong image. 2. Make a plan What are the things that really matter to you? Is it being with special people? Having fun? Connection? What really needs to be in place to make that happen? Are there some things that you can do that will take the pressure off and make it more doable? Write those down so that you have a plan for the minimum that needs to happen. Not for perfection, but for good enough. Often when we stop and reflect on what really matters to us, we realise that many of the things that feel so vital have nothing to do with the real joy. They’re just nice to have. Creating a plan lets you spot where perfection is creeping in. 3. Express Gratitude Gratitude is a bit of a super power. It’s proven to increase positivity and optimism and is a great way to stop perfectionism in its tracks. When we try and make things perfect, we’re not stopping to appreciate what IS, instead we are chasing what should be. Practicing gratitude regularly helps you build the muscle for noticing what you have and being truly thankful. More is always good, but it’s even better when you can find the blessing in whatever happens. 4. Laugh out Loud The final tip to find joy instead of perfection is to find the humour. This comes down to mindset. Can you turn your frown upside down when it all feels too much and find things to smile and laugh about? Just like gratitude, joy is a practice. It’s always there when we look for it.
What about the blocks?
We all have old beliefs and patterns that get in the way of experiencing happiness. It can make it hard for us to create that image of the Christmas we would love to experience. We remember the bad times or imagine the worst.
One practice that can help is to start cultivating the experience of joy through your memory. Why not harness your imagination differently?
I'd love to invite you to tune in to a meditation that will help you remember the good times so you can create more. You can have a watch and listen here. Let me know how you go.
THE GIFT OF CALM
Imagine calm and clarity in every part of your life.
Feeling able to handle whatever life throws at you. Knowing that you can cope with anything, not because life is stress free but because you have a new way of responding.
Being able to change how you think, feel and respond to the challenges of your life changes everything. Anything is possible when you have a toolkit of understanding, tools and practices to support you.
I have two very special gift vouchers for you or someone you care about…give the gift of calm this year.
You can check them out here
Wishing you a joyful festive season.
Laura @ Be.
In the meantime, wishing you an amazing festive season and a peaceful month ahead.
Laura @ Be x
p.s - if you'd love to have access to curated practices to help you stay calm and in control, hop on over to the Be. Membership. You'll be amazed what a difference it will make to every part of your life. Come and join us here
“People who learn to control inner experience will be able to determine the quality of their lives, which is as close as any of us can come to being happy.”
― Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience