Let’s be honest. ‘Tis the season for stress.
Although the holidays are a time for joy and togetherness, they’re also a time for anxiety and exhaustion for some folks.
Everybody seems to be shopping only days before Christmas, and there are crowds everywhere. Christmas dinners are even more stressful. Family dynamics and patterns may come to the surface, and they often leave us feeling alienated or misunderstood.
The holidays may also be filled with grief and sadness for some people, which ultimately makes it a painful time of year.
Whatever you’re feeling right now, know that you’re not alone. Dealing with family tension or loss is never easy; it can trigger intense feelings of suffering and anxiety. However, when we have the proper tools, we can overcome this challenging period with grace and calmness.
Keep your cool and practice the nine qualities of the Buddha:
1. Araham: The Buddha became free from all mental and emotional corruption.
Let go of anger, quick reactions, gossip, hatred, jealousy, judgement, or any other defilement that may take over you this Christmas. Wish others well and keep a friendly attitude.
2. Sammasambuddho: The Buddha understood The Four Noble Truths.
Understand that we all suffer because we want everything to last. However, we can eradicate our mental and emotional suffering by accepting that people and things are transient. Find your middle way by achieving equanimity.
3. Vijja-Carana-Sampanno: The Buddha had a clear vision and good conduct.
With proper insight and wisdom, we, too, can behave compassionately with other people without selfishness or anger.
4. Sugato: The Buddha walked the path leading to freedom—by doing the right things.
Like The Buddha, we can speak the right words and deal with things the right way, at the right time. We can’t be perfect, but we can observe our harmful reactions before letting them hurt someone else.
5. Lokavidu: The Buddha was knowledgeable.
He was in harmony with what was around him—and within him. This Christmas, be aware of the assumptions or false scenarios that you might entertain. Inner knowledge is of utmost importance.
6. Anuttaro-Purisa-Damma-Sarathi: The Buddha brought men to the path of righteousness.
Although we might feel like avoiding some people during the holidays, we must believe that we have the power to help them. Listen, reach out, help, share, love.
7. Satta-Deva-Manussanam: The Buddha was a universal teacher.
Be flexible and capable like The Buddha. Everybody’s a teacher in disguise—including us…and our family.
8. Buddho: The Buddha awakened from ignorance.
He also taught others how to awaken from life’s deepest illusions and find calm and peace. We can do the same with our family if we feel triggered or hurt.
9. Bhagava: Buddha was the happiest—because he had conquered suffering.
Controlling our immediate, unthoughtful reactions, managing our anger, helping others, practicing loving-kindness, practicing patience and equanimity, and being truthful can also make us happy and peaceful.
Happy Holidays. May we embody the Buddha’s qualities today and every day.