“Dreading, what many people call, the ‘spiritual’ high point of the year.”
It was late October and she was my first “Happy Holiday” handicapped person of the holiday season. Denise hadn’t even started her shopping yet. But she was stressed out anyway…her spirit was depleted…she was really dreading, what many people call, the ‘spiritual’ high point of the year.
Denise was retired from teaching and had been working on designing the rest of her destiny. She and Larry, her husband, had three three adult children and four grandchildren. She did some part time child care for her daughter, Abby, who was a single mom working split shifts at the local fishing plant. Larry had refused to retire. He seemed contented running his small, but successful, hardware store…determined to hang in there as long as he could against his much larger competitors.
One day Denise arrived upset. Her son, Josh, who she called ‘The Planner’, had called with his Christmas flight schedule. She said she was glad in one way, but not in another. It meant she could start her own planning but it also meant those dates were the only window of opportunity to get all of her family together this year.
“I just don’t know how people do it!” she said once she was settled.
“Do what?” I asked.
“Have a Happy Holiday of course!” she replied adding, “They must know something I don’t!”
“What do you mean by a Happy Holiday, Denise?” I asked.
“You know Ken,…everyone together, getting along, smiling, laughing, having fun…that kind of Happy Holiday!”
“We had such wonderful holidays…”
“Do you remember any Happy Holidays in your past Denise?” I asked her.
“Oh, yes, Ken…I remember many from my childhood. We had such wonderful times with everyone home, playing games, staying up late, presents, fantastic food…the whole thing…I remember it well…everyone is such high spirits!”
“Denise, I have fond memories of my family’s holidays as well. I still remember the smell and the taste of the twenty six pound turkey my mother cooked one year for her nine children…it was truly lovely. But, I also remember the worry and stress she went through finding a pan big enough…and getting the right temperature and time in the oven…and, if one of my brother’s would get home in time…and, if we had enough chairs for everyone…and lots of other challenges she faced. It was ‘wonderfully painful’ day…full of moments of heaven and hell. Is that not true for your memories as well?”
“Well yes…I suppose! Dad was a heavy drinker and especially during the holidays. And Mom was working a lot to keep up with the bills. And us kids had to do a lot of the housework at times…and especially that time of year because Mom often got extra shifts with double time.”
Then she added, “But Ken, I only want to remember the good parts so I can feel good about them, and then, feel good about the coming holidays this year!”
“I have to expect both pleasure and pain equally over the coming holidays?”
“You can try Denise. But it will cost you dearly!”
“How can it cost me to focus on the good parts of my past, Ken?” she replied.
“If we ignore one side of our natural system, we place ourselves at a huge disadvantage in being ready for our future. Let me give you an example. If farmers plant a lot more potatoes this year because last year the selling price was good then they risk having lower price when they are too many potatoes available which drives the price down. In the same way, if I only remember the smell and taste of that twenty six pound turkey and ignored all the other challenges which we happening at the same moment, I could infatuate the memory thinking I could recreate it at another time…getting only the pleasure without the pain…this would create an illusion of good times without the bad times which always accompany them. If that farmer remembers the extra cost, extra work and extra risk involved in planting additional potatoes, then he is less likely to infatuate the good price and will plant just enough to keep the price stable”
“Ken, do you mean I have to expect both pleasure and pain equally over the coming holidays?”
“That’s what wise people do…the ones who look carefully at their past and see the duality of equal pleasure and pain, at all times!”
“So I’m to expect both pleasure and pain in equal proportion at all times and places during every moment of this holiday coming up?”
“Yep…you got it!” I replied with a small smile.
“And this is true for everyone…regardless of who they are, where they are…and so on?”
“Yep…even farmers!” I said again.
“I will appreciate the holidays more if I expect this duality…”
“But, why would I want to do that, Ken?”
“Actually, Denise, for three important reasons. First, to acknowledge the natural laws governing us and our world; second, to honour the people and memories of your past, and third, and perhaps most importantly, to raise your appreciation for your past, your present and your future.”
“Ken, do you mean I will appreciate the holidays more if I expect this duality you mentioned?”
“Yes I do Denise! And you will be better prepared for whatever occurs knowing the duality is natural and to be expected. This will free you to be grateful for the holidays instead of stressed out.”
“I’m going to try it out and see what happens!” she replied.
“Great! Will you come back in January and tell how it went?”
“I sure will, Ken!”
Until Next time…
Please note we have moved to new offices Suite # 3 at 549 North River Road, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada, C1E 1J6
Also, there will be another Breakthrough Experience™ Seminar on November 29 & 30, 2014 at our new offices. Details are available at www.kenpiercepsychologist.com
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