The holidays are great, but sometimes the pressures that we put on ourselves is, well, ridiculous. Too many places to go, too many people to see, and just too much to do. It actually can be quite a fantastic time though if you keep the following in mind and allow it all to just flow. Here are some simple tips to help your holiday flow that much better. 1. Prepare – Think about what demands and stresses are on the horizon and get things in place to help minimize their impact on you. How will you choose to respond to known upcoming stressors. See if you can expand and respond instead of contract and react. 2. See obstacles objectively – How well can you handle yourself when things go wrong? It usually depends on what all is going wrong, what all is going on, and how many time restraints you put on yourself. Give yourself enough time by preparing ahead (see tip # 1), that way when things come up you have already built time into your schedule. Practice seeing the silver lining in every snafu. That doesn’t mean that you can’t get upset, but it does mean that you have a choice about how long you let it ruin your day. Obstacles and stresses are an opportunity to grow and don’t exist just to make you miserable. 3. Minimize discomfort – Enter each family gathering with a specific idea about how you want to feel when you leave. Of course you can’t control everything but seeing things the way that you want them to be BEFORE you get there actually has an effect on how things really turn out. Everything is created twice, first in the mind (either consciously or subconsciously) and only second in the physical world. How do you intend to eat? To drink? How much? What types of conversations do you intend to have? With whom? (if food has caused you discomfort go here) 4. Get curious – If you are fortunate enough to be with grandma and grandpa or mom and dad, get curious. Use this valuable time together to ask them something about them or the family that you don’t know. If the elders aren’t present or you are the elder, then see if you can find out what makes the people you are around tick. Of course you want to be sure that your curiosity doesn’t sound like you are judging, but just the opposite – find out more about your family. Even if you’re a black sheep or don’t feel that you have much in common, you most certainly do. Make it a game and try and find out what! 5. Breathe! This may be the most important one of all. When the inevitable tension arises because a “forbidden” topic is discussed or the cake falls or God forbid a Lampoon’s Christmas commences, remember to breathe. Expand your lungs, don’t contract them. Everything will be fine, remember any obstacles that show up are neutral and we choose whether we see them as positive or negative. The holiday’s are opportunities. Seize the day and make the absolute best of your valuable time. How can you serve? Who can you acknowledge? Can you connect deeply with a family member or friend that you rarely see? I wish you the best end to 2014 and an awesome beginning to 2015. Thank you all for being part of my community!