Who’s Joy Are You Looking For?
This Christmas, we pulled out some of the Christmas classics, and watched “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.” Remember this movie? Sparky’s Christmas is one high expectation after another. As he builds up how every moment will be perfect and magical, time and time again it blows up in his face (sometimes literally).
Was your Christmas cloaked in expectation? Did you build up in your head how everyone will love it and how magical it will be?
Remembering “That Christmas”
The year Clara was NOT diggin’ Christmas. New baby sister didn’t make it any better!
Maybe it ended up like our Christmas Eve when Clara was two. Here we were, with the only grandchild in town, and she was ready to take in all of the magic of Christmas. We built up this perfect holiday, taking in all of the festivities and expecting her to just soak it all in with pure joy.
What we got was a tiny monster. She didn’t like the scary Santa. She didn’t want to eat the Christmas feast. Her idea of fun was telling everyone to bugger off while she did her own thing. By Christmas Eve, she was so freaked out by the built up anticipation of a large man coming into her home, the last thing she wanted to do was go to sleep. After a battle of all battles to get her settled down, we collapsed on the couch in tears, wondering how we were going to pull off this magical event the next morning when our child had been replaced with an ungrateful cranky Grinch.
You Are Not In Charge Of Someone Else’s Happiness
Ouch. My Christmas had been spent focused on another. In the spirit of giving, I was so focused on an agenda of making someone else happy that no
happiness resulted. When our goal is to make others happy, we miss something huge.
It’s hard to force a smile in another when our own face is simply furrowed in concentration.
I don’t know about you, but I’m not a mind reader. I can get a good idea of understanding by knowing personalities and behavior
like I do, but ultimately, there can be a myriad of complex emotions in another, and, as much as I can try and influence, ultimately they
are in charge of their own happiness.
Flip The Switch
Instead of “checking off the box” off of being with others for quality time, or doing something because you think it’s what another wants, try this:
When you spend time with loved ones, don’t do it because you think they want it. It’s not about the length of time or what you do. It’s about you seeing in them those parts you adore and you want more of. Find your joy in them.
Sometimes we are so focused on the joy of another that we don’t see that we’ve lost our own.
It’s not fun to be around someone lacking joy. We can be drained trying to get the right reaction, the right amount of gratitude, and the right level of excitement from our kids. We want our intentional “quality time” to mean something to them. Instead of our focus being on getting that smile out of them, flip the switch back to yourself.
Delight Is Contagious
Get your own spark. The anticipation and excitement of the holidays is so often around creating that time of love and laughter, where everyone is enjoying one another. You are in charge of your own happiness. Spend time finding your own joy. Stop and soak in the moment of quiet when the house is still. Stop what you’re doing and look at your child laughing, and embrace that moment. Close your eyes and breathe in the scents of family meals and good cooking.
When you are spending time with others, focus on what you love about them. Find your own joy in being with them. It may be taking a moment to really think about this beautiful being you brought into this world. It may be chuckling in your head at your aunt’s silly antics or seeing what you can learn from Mr. Know-It-All. What can you delight in about the person you are focused on right now? Anything. You like their hair. Their laugh. What they just said.
We Are Egocentric
Especially if it’s caused by them, your delight is contagious. So often, it’s not about what you do or what you create. True connection, happiness and fun with others is about the experience of focused attention. Not what you’re doing; but the excitement and love they see in you for them. Because then, it’s all about them…even though it isn’t. Clear as mud, right?
People love to get a positive reaction. To see someone smile or laugh because of you – it makes you feel good to know you are a part of that. And that’s what you’re looking for, right? So then, experience it yourself. What is coming from another that makes you happy? What makes you smile, laugh, and delight in someone else? Find that spark. Find your own joy.
As you seek happiness in your relation to another, that is the joy that spreads. Focus your joy within your head, and you’ll see it ripple out to those where you find your delight.