How to be Happy When the Holidays Are Over How creating small celebrations can help you continue stay festive throughout the year. BY DEBBIE MANDEL
Keep the smiles on your faces long after the snow has melted.
“ In fact, anticipation often trumps the reality of achievement because who can compete with the imagination?”
We’re busy having so much fun during the holidays and then they’re done—only blahs and blues remain. If you want to sustain happiness after the holidays, learn from retailers. This sounds counterintuitive and crassly materialistic, but the core principles are not. Retailers know how to generate a buzz and keep it going. Do you?
Retailer’s start stocking the shelves in September and mailing out their holiday catalogues before Halloween even hits. From one-day sales to the ubiquitous mad-rush hourly sales in early November and online blowouts, human beings just love to anticipate and celebrate events, as well as anticipate and celebrate anniversaries of these events. Things like graduation, a fresh new love, first job, first car, new home, marriage, a new baby, holidays, etc. show that the possibilities are endless. In fact, anticipation often trumps the reality of achievement because who can compete with the imagination?
The secret to a sustainable happiness is lining up your own series of small celebrations to anticipate:
* Mondays: Schedule something fun to start the week. Try a power breakfast, evening drinks, movie, dance/art/cooking class or dinner with friends.
* Vacation: You don’t need to wait for a free week or two to empty your wallet. Day-cations are great fun and easy on the wallet. Plan a winter picnic, do a hiking trail or enjoy antiquing with your honey. The beach in the winter can be a surprising experience. Stay overnight at an inn. You can schedule a series of day-cations to fuel your spontaneity and joy.
* Day after New Year's: January 2nd got you down? Ask yourself what are retailers doing? They are having clearance sales to get rid of winter merchandise, which didn’t sell as expected. Similarly, it’s time to de-clutter your space and make it uplifting by taking a personal inventory of what no longer serves to make room for new inspiration. By the way, if you gained some excess winter weight, spring into fitness by anticipating a lighter you in a bathing suit—without the layers to hide behind. Housecleaning is great exercise, but then so is dancing. Either way, turn on the music and move!
* February: You are late in the retail season if you have not anticipated the spring. In department stores it is springtime from visuals to sound effects. It’s time to bring in the spring—pretty bulbs blooming in every supermarket can be on your table signaling to reset your natural rhythm. A new haircut and lighter makeup cheers me up. Also, the days are longer for you to schedule an extra fun activity—found free time.
* Find your hunger: Every holiday revolves around food; and food and happiness correlate highly. Anticipate creative menus with seasonal produce, wines, inventive cocktails and baked breads. Spice-up the mood with music and décor, which complements your specific theme. Create amazing healthy, quality recipes at home with your spouse or eat out and indulge in being served. Get friends and family on board and rotate the food festivities.
Debbie Mandel, MA is the author of "Addicted to Stress: A Woman's 7 Step Program to Reclaim Joy and Spontaneity in Life," "Changing Habits: The Caregivers' Total Workout" and "Turn On Your Inner Light: Fitness for Body, Mind and Soul," a stress-management specialist and mind/body lecturer. She is the host of the weekly Turn On Your Inner Light Show on WGBB AM1240 in New York and has been featured on radio/ TV and print media. To learn more visit: www.turnonyourinnerlight.com.