I looked at my calendar for November/December and instantly felt overwhelmed! When I opened my budget spreadsheet and saw the projected costs of birthdays, anniversaries as well as Christmas, I was done!
I could feel the dread settle in the pit of my tummy and could foresee all the eye-rolling at my boring rants about consumerism and the real meaning of Christmas. Is there a way I can skip Christmas altogether?
As a Minimalist, I enjoy getting rid of the excess and receiving or giving gifts is not my strongest love language. But in order to brave Christmas, I needed to put on my big girl undies and just deal.
The ‘Merry Christmas’ Pressure
There’s the matter of being overwhelmed with too much to do, events to attend and organise, the frustration of seeing money leaving my bank account as soon as it lands, along with the many friendships and relationships I’ve neglected but most importantly the feeling that something is just not right.
The funny thing is while my calendar is full to the brim, my mental state is a little off.
It’s easy to be busy and distracted and I would argue that some of us create busyness to fill some voids in our lives, but the constant state of busy doesn’t really make us happy does it? So what makes us truly happy?
Psychologists say that… “Beyond inherited tendencies, the things that appear to matter most in generating happiness are close social ties (including friends and a satisfying marriage or partnership), religious faith and having the resources necessary to
allow progress towards one’s goals.” *
The ‘Merry Christmas’ Distractions
If the psychological explanation is true then it’s easy to put things right again so I no longer feel a little off. Generating more happiness for me would be a satisfying relationship with my loved ones, spending time in prayer and not necessarily kicking goals, but having full access to the ball and the goal post.
The thing is we all have access to these, it’s just a matter of paying more attention to them and not filling life up with distractions.
For example, I can go out for coffee and spend time catching up with every single one of my girlfriends over the next month, but neglect the relationship I have at home with my husband (parents, children, siblings etc). I can spend all my time in Ministry organising retreats, events and talking to people about Jesus, but neglect daily Mass and devotion to Mary. I can sit and wish that I could get a High Distinction in an exam but neglect to use the resources, forums and help from Uni. All hypothetical situations but very real examples of how happiness is right in front of you but we get distracted.
What’s even more interesting is, if you really pay attention you will notice that Jesus is in all three of these forms of generating happiness. Relationships, Religion and our desire to do something great with our lives.
St John Paul II says
“It is Jesus that you seek when you dream of happiness;
He is waiting for you when nothing else you find satisfies you;
He is the beauty to which you are so attracted;
it is He who provoked you with that thirst for fullness that will not let you settle for compromise;
it is He who urges you to shed the masks of a false life;
it is He who reads in your heart your most genuine choices, the choices that others try to stifle.
It is Jesus who stirs in you the desire to do something great with your lives,
the will to follow an ideal,
the refusal to allow yourselves to be ground down by mediocrity,
the courage to commit yourselves humbly and patiently to improving yourselves and society,
making the world more human and more fraternal.”
If SJPII is right and Jesus is the source of our happiness, then let’s let go of distractions and give ourselves a chance to prepare for Advent.
The 4 Steps to Advent Challenge
Advent starts on December 2 and it’s the 4 weeks before Christmas where we reflect on, hopeful longing, joyful expectation, prayerful penance, and spiritual preparation.
Often we neglect this period of prayer, penance and fasting because we are so busy shopping, attending Christmas parties, organising annual leave etc.
There’s no doubt that we can struggle to get a quick ‘Our Father’ into our day because of all this busyness.
So I propose a challenge to you. Declutter. Instead of spending these next 2 weeks getting into the shopping or buying extra outfits for summer and parties and filling up your calendar with social events. Stop, breathe and take inventory of what's truly important. Here’s a great article on how clutter affects your brain, so do yourself a favour for the rest of the month, just stop.
1. Get Un-busy
2. Practice other love languages – for now…
3. Donate, Sell or Recycle
4. Get excited about Advent
So before Advent starts let’s get into position. Let’s give ourselves a fighting chance to fill our soul with love for Christ by de-cluttering from all the distractions.
Scripture says “Let every heart, prepare him room” because no matter how hard we try to fill that void in our heart with busyness and nonsense, the fact remains (in Advent and in every other season of our lives)…
the closer we are to Jesus, the closer we are to happiness.
Happy Feast of Christ the King and a relaxing Advent to you!