I lived in Australia for 10 years where Christmas is the the start of the long summer holidays, the sun is out constantly and people's energy levels are high. I've always loved the cold UK winter though with the long dark nights, bright lights and roaring fires. The energy feels different. Slower. Calmer. More reflective.
Christmas itself though can be quite stressful - the pressure to purchase, the social engagements, the commitments we make to family and others. So, as I started thinking about the next few weeks I wanted to create an incisive question that would help me navigate this period with ease, and a sense joy (rather than dread).
I thought I'd talk you through my thought process so you can come up with your own powerful and liberating question that you can hold close to you for the next few weeks:
Firstly I try and work out how I want to feel or what I want to do: I want to feel at ease and energised, I want to enjoy the time I have with my family, I want to take time to run outside, I want to go for long walks, I want to spend time doing small things with the kids that over the years will add up to a memory box full of experiences.
Identify what I most want: I want to finish the year feeling radiant and connected.
What am I assuming that would stop me feeling radiant and connected? That I need to cook...A LOT (and far more lavishly than normal); that I need to invite lots of people over; that I need to go out more than normal; that travelling with young children will be stressful and tiring; that I won't have time to run and do yoga...
What am I assuming that is most stopping me from feeling radiant and connected? I'm assuming its going to be a lot of work at a time when we're already quite tired.
Is this true? It's possible it could be more work. There are more people around; there's more travelling than normal. I do want to cook lots of edible yummy things, so it feels like it could be.
What could I credibly assume instead in order to feel radiant and connected? I could assume that moment by moment I have a choice and that if I don't want to do something I don't need to. I could assume that the only pressure is coming from me and no one else.
So, (and this is in the incisive part of the question)...If I knew that moment by moment I have a choice how would I feel? I'd focus on what matters most to me each day and let go of anything that doesn't. I'd focus more on 'being' with people rather than 'doing' things for them. Overall, I'd feel at ease knowing I could choose to focus on what feels essential to me and I'd laugh more, love more and enjoy things a lot more as a result.
So here are the questions for you to think about:
How do you want to feel/be this Christmas?
What are you assuming that is stopping you from (insert how you want to feel/ do)?
Identify what is most stopping you.
Ask yourself is this true? what are your reasons?
What could you credibly assume instead in order to feel how you want to / do what you want to?
Ask yourself if you knew this (insert your credible alternative) how would you feel/what would you do?
Voila - that is the question you need to memorise, internalise and live as true.