Don’t be a sheep and follow the pack, find out what you really like and what makes you happy. Nathanthial Eamons said "Habit is best of servants or the worst of masters" So are your patterns of behaviour making or breaking you?
The human condition, the patterns/habits we learn from our parents when we are young by modelling and copying are what causes us misery and unhappiness when we grow up and have to think for ourselves. If we are told when we are young that fish and chips is a healthy food option to eat daily and we watch those we trust around us indulging, why would we question its truth, we wouldn’t, we would just follow suit and do the same.
We only know what we know so what is passed on from others unfortunately ends up becoming our template to happiness. How many things that you do every year like celebrate the tradition of Christmas or where you choose to go on holiday is down to habit or routine rather than a spur of the moment impulse idea? You will find most of what you are conditioned to do is done out of habit rather than genuine desire. It is what you are used to and you don’t want to upset the apple cart by going against the grain and the pack.
Writing things down clarifies your thoughts so make a list of how many times you wish you did not have to participate in something organized by someone else just because you have always done it in the past. Christmas is the perfect example of a time when people are under enormous pressure to perform, in fact the pressure is so high these days the festive preparation now begins in October. We are bombarded by the media and advertisers subliminally telling us time is running out, we need to get shopping, we don’t want to leave things until the last second, constantly leaving us feeling stressed and miserable.
The truth is if you are overweight and have no will power, buying big boxes of quality street or mince pies, to put away until the big day, is fatal as you are likely to be unable to resist eating them immediately.
How many of us have tried going on a crash diet 6 weeks before Christmas to lose enough weight to get into that little black party dress only to have a big pig out and eat what you want immediately afterwards. Well established patterns most of us will buy into time and time again that never work in practice. Diets don’t work especially when you are surrounded by temptation and your life revolves around a two month build up to an event that in reality lasts one day.
Write down what a holiday like Christmas means to you, not what you have been told by others or what you see others doing but what it is all about to you and how you truly feel about it. You have to consciously ask yourself the questions in order to discover what you really think.
If it’s a great experience, you can afford to splash out and spoil those you love and you never resent spending money on gifts people hate and never use, then knock yourself out but if you dread it and want it to just disappear, then do something different for once and don't buy in.
To be happy we have to be in control of our own destiny and just because everyone else around you is suffering from status anxiety, keeping up with the Jones, you can choose to do what you like and be different. By changing a pattern you'll see the effect it has on other people. It is an amazing thing to give the gift of your time to those who need help and support especially if you are broke and that is all you have to give.
Whenever you are stressed and strapped for cash whatever the pressure you can always tell people you know you are doing something good by volunteering your time and your company to those who find themselves alone and worse off than you. Doing a good deed for others will get you out of anything cleanly and without any of the ramefications you may fear if you say no.
If you can afford to splash out, treat yourself to a long sunshine break away from your normal routine then relax knowing you have no massive credit cards bills to worry about come the end of January.
True happiness comes from having a purpose not from envying and competing, buying stuff we cannot always afford or don't need. No amount of shopping, eating, drinking, partying at Christmas or any other time of year for that matter will fill the void, the big empty hole. External gratification, looking outward for satisfaction based on false information we have learnt from others never lasts. It is time to start looking inward, beginning a dialogue and questioning your own pattern behaviour, hearing not what you want to hear, the good bits but what you need to hear to change, the stuff deep down you are actually ashamed of.
Photo by: Mick Haupt Unsplash