The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

December 23, 2013

Take some time to focus on what really matters this holiday season

By MELINDA KAPALIN
Star Beacon

— December is hectic. From the moment the sales pitches start on Thanksgiving Day, to the super holiday deals being offered today, the pressures seems to grow. It time to stop the madness!

 Take a moment today to stop and catch your breath. Find a quiet spot, maybe in your bedroom, your car, or taking a walk outside in this unseasonably warm weather.

Take a moment to quiet your thoughts and multi-tasking efforts.

Think for a moment about what really matters in your life.

The holiday season has become such a media and shopping frenzy that we often forget the reasons that we are celebrating during this time of year.

For some it is a religious holiday season and for others, it is a family tradition.

But we all seem to get caught up in the need to show how much we care for each other by exchanging gifts.

  Soon the wrapping paper will be crumpled into the trash bags and the dirty dishes piled into the sink and the children will go off to their rooms to play with their new toys.

Somehow, the moments of family togetherness will fade as quickly as they came.

  Before you let the hectic pace of the holiday season overtake your family, stop and take a deep breath to focus on being in the moment.

Think about how you really want to spend your time and money.

A recent Harvard University Happiness Study showed that people who have the ability to live in the moment are happier than those whose focus is scattered.

  Children and parents alike report that while they remember gifts that they received, the memories of family traditions, stories, and outings gave them more long lasting pleasure.

This week, think about the memories that you will be making with your loved ones.

Let yourself be in the moment and not rushing to get to the next thing on your list.

Have a sense of gratitude for the people who are in your life and count your blessings.

Even when people are going through a difficult time, there is always something or someone to be thankful for.

The study showed that gratitude and positive thinking were keys to long term happiness.

 This season share your life stories with the next generation.

Oral histories are priceless and often help children and grandchildren strengthen their bonds with their families

Hearing stories of past holidays or life events opens the door for children to share their own experiences with their parents. Bridging the generation gaps builds stronger families.

Be in the moment as you attend each event, service, dinner, and even while you read your children a bedtime story.

Shut off the cell phones, tablets, computers, and TVs. The quiet moments with your children or parents can’t be recreated.

Being in the moment also requires that you become a better listener. When someone is sharing their story, be attentive and show you care.

You just might learn something new about a parent, child, relative or friend. It is in our human connections that we truly thrive and feel happier.

 So take some time to focus on what really matters this holiday season and enjoy each and every moment with your family and friends.

Happy Holidays to All!