Har­ri­ette urges read­ers to choose joy

The Saline Courier - - OPINION -

“Congress shall make no law ... abridg­ing the free­dom of speech, or of the press ... . ” — From the First Amend­ment to Con­sti­tu­tion

DEAR READ­ERS: Merry Christ­mas! On this day and through­out this week, we his­tor­i­cally choose to cel­e­brate. While this is a Chris­tian hol­i­day, it has be­come a marker for the time of year when fam­ily and friends pause from work and school and choose to spend time to­gether. Yes, it can also rep­re­sent the time when peo­ple spend way too much money lav­ish­ing each other with gifts.

My prayer is that ev­ery one of us will take a few min­utes to­day and through­out the days lead­ing up to the end of the year to prac­tice grat­i­tude. Let’s ask our­selves what brings us joy and hap­pi­ness. Iden­tify that for your­self, and al­low the no­tion of it to flour­ish.

At the end of the year, many peo­ple be­come emo­tional and re­flec­tive. Yes, it is good to think about your life and your choices. It is also im­por­tant to count your bless­ings and to ac­tively choose to be grate­ful for all of the bless­ings in your life. When I pro­claim that, I mean it for ev­ery sin­gle one of you. Rec­og­niz­ing that you have power in your own choices can help you through this time of year.

For those who are Chris­tian, think about the mean­ing of this hol­i­day, the time when Je­sus was born. The birth story of Christ is one of mys­tery.

This great be­ing was born in a manger be­cause there was “no room at the inn.” De­spite poverty and hard­ship, he came into the world and led a move­ment that would change it for­ever.

Do you have the abil­ity to look at your life and choose to hold onto the good things, even if you are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing dif­fi­cul­ties, sad­ness or other fric­tion? Do you think you can choose to live in the mo­ment and claim what­ever hap­pi­ness is wait­ing there for you? Can you be your own rad­i­cal thinker and de­cide to be pos­i­tive and hope­ful no mat­ter what?

I be­lieve that it is pos­si­ble to seek hap­pi­ness in a proac­tive way. How? When you find your­self in the com­pany of fam­ily and friends, choose to no­tice the good things about each per­son. Re­sist the temp­ta­tion to pick at your loved ones. Point out some­thing note­wor­thy about each per­son that you can cel­e­brate. It can be some­thing su­per­fi­cial, like how the per­son looks. You can ac­knowl­edge a stu­dent for do­ing a great job this se­mes­ter. You can com­pli­ment the cook. Re­joice at see­ing peo­ple you have missed over the past year. The point here is to iden­tify some­thing to cel­e­brate about oth­ers and about your­self -- and say it out loud.

For your part, if you don’t want to talk too much about your­self, choose a cou­ple of things you can will­ingly say, and then pivot. Pick safe top­ics that you can insert in the con­ver­sa­tion that will not lead to a probe. Be­cause most peo­ple like to talk about them­selves, you can get the at­ten­tion off of your­self quickly if you ask a lot of ques­tions. This, in turn, will pro­tect your pri­vacy, but do your best not to hide. Claim some­thing pos­i­tive about your life, and say it out loud. It doesn’t have to be earth-shat­ter­ing, but it should be true. When you choose joy, you wel­come oth­ers to do the same. And at the end of the day, you may just feel the hap­pi­ness that you seek.

•••

Har­ri­ette Cole is a lifestylis­t and founder of DREAMLEAPE­RS, an ini­tia­tive to help peo­ple ac­cess and ac­ti­vate their dreams. You can send ques­tions to askhar­ri­[email protected]­ri­et­tecole.com or c/o An­drews Mcmeel Syn­di­ca­tion, 1130 Wal­nut St., Kansas City,

MO 64106.

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