Choose Joy—The Practical Side

Thanksgiving is upon us and I am personally trying to focus on choosing joy, gratitude and the experiences I want to have during the holidays. After all, how I feel and most of what I do boils down to choice. If you think about it, you make dozens of decisions every day. You choose what you will wear, what you will eat, what you will watch and what you will spend your time doing each night after work.

Not that long ago, I listened to a podcast about habits of highly effective people. The speaker talked about daily life choices successful people make and how those choices make them successful. For example, she talked about how some famous people like Steve Jobs (he was alive at the time I heard the podcast) wear the same outfit—or some variation of it—every day. The speaker stated that our brains get tired towards the end of the day after making so many choices all day—think late night Netflix + ice cream binge = bad choice. She pointed out that by having some choices already set every day like morning rituals, clothing, food choices, etc., you have more brain power to make better choices for a longer duration each day.

I am not suggesting that you have to wear the same thing every day, but I am suggesting that we have the power to choose many things in life—including the type of experiences we will have each day. And even when we cannot fully control life as it happens around us, we can make some formative choices about the type of experiences we want to have and what our reactions to these experiences will be.

The holidays are full of experiences including encounters with people we rarely see, anniversaries and traditions that evoke strong emotions in all of us. A practical measure you can take during the holidays is to “take the holidays by force.” What I mean by this is, think about the holidays and decide what kind of experience you want to have before the season begins. And here is the ticket—be realistic.

Try to think about the kind of experience you want to have and what you can do to facilitate that experience—meaning where you will go, what you will do and who you will see. Second, think of all the possible outcomes you can regarding said experiences. For example, if the experience goes well, if it doesn’t, or if it is not as meaningful or fun as you envisioned. Then, and this is very important, decide what mindset and emotion you will choose to have even if the worst of imagined scenarios takes place. This does not mean you will not feel disappointment or frustration in the moment of your worst case scenario; however, it does mean you will be able to bounce back quicker. Furthermore, being mindful about the holidays on the “front end” and thinking through several possibilities better ensures that the holidays will be as positive as possible.

If you are feeling stress, anxiety or depression as the holiday approaches give the gift of health to yourself. Call Life Enhancement Counseling Services today at 407-443-8862 to schedule an appointment and speak with a trained Orlando psychotherapist.


Yolanda Brailey