Regardless of your background, faith or beliefs, this time of year can give all of us the opportunity to be grateful for all the good things in our lives. Even for those who don’t feel they have much in the way of good fortune to celebrate, it’s still a time to reflect on what we do have to be thankful for. It’s easy for me to say all that of course, but it’s a much trickier thing to do. Christmas can be stressful, and for some, a cold reminder of things they’d prefer to forget.
I’ve found that it takes effort to detach somewhat from the slaughter of noise that comes at us this time of year. As a global society that’s highly plugged-in, we are open-targets for a bombardment of messages, advertising, politics and opinions intended to persuade and influence us. If we don’t put in the effort to actively filter it and shut it out, we’re at risk of succumbing to the pressure it induces and completely missing the point of this time of year.
Personally, I’m a sucker for news and news headlines that come at me from my various information streams I follow. On the one hand, this is just personal interest, as I enjoy staying on top of what’s going on in the world. The downside, however, is that the media has become very savvy in crafting news headlines that grab your attention and evoke an emotional response. It’s often the case that, when you dig into it, the underlying article is only barely related to the headline, so the headline is frequently an overdramatization of the real story. Even though I fall for it, I’m aware of the fact it’s mostly noise. More than that, it’s divisive noise designed to polarize people into entrenched camps. Knowing that, I try not to take it too seriously and I don’t let it get me stressed out or worried about the future. This time of year, I have to find the self-discipline to avoid it and just enjoy the quiet that comes with being a bit unplugged.
If your thing isn’t news, maybe it’s pressure from Christmas shopping, or family issues, or financial stresses. Or maybe someone posted a nasty comment on Facebook. Most of these things are further exploded by that bombardment of noise we get this time of year.
So, my message to you is this: to truly enjoy the wonderful things this season has to offer, try to seek some calm away from all the noise. Get off your device for extended amounts of time every day. Go hug your best friends. Hug your kids. Hug someone you work with. It’s important to be mindful of how this noise can affect us. We all need to learn to ignore all the divisive positions out there trying to persuade us into their camp. So make an effort to shut it off and seek a bit of calm.
Merry Christmas and have a safe, happy holiday.