“Always be on the lookout for the presence of wonder.” E.B. White
Welcome to the holiday season! I love this time of year. The magic and wonder that comes with the holidays are something that I can’t get enough of. Add twinkle lights and festive music and snowflakes and peppermint to anything and for me it creates instant magic.
While this time of year is often coined “the most wonderful time of the year,” so often it is also the reminder of the things in our life that aren’t so wonderful or aren’t so perfect. Social media and holiday sales and surface level parties all leave us questioning why other people’s lives seem ideal, and yet ours aren’t yet.
My Thanksgiving week started with the stress of my partner being sick with the flu, so it felt hard to be grateful when I was worrying about a person I care about, and also having to carry more of the load in taking care of the family and preparing the house for hosting Thanksgiving dinner.
For a dear friend of mine, she’s mentioned a few times that the end of the year is also a reminder of the goals she didn’t quite reach in this year, or even worse – the reminder that we’re now at the close of another decade – and she didn’t reach that health goal she’d been talking about for months, or years, and the number on the scale isn’t quite what she hoped it would be.
A co-worker of mine is disappointed to realize that he didn’t get that new client he thought he would have by the end of the year, and for me it’s been discouragement about progress towards a new project that has been slower than I’d hoped. For both of us we feel like there isn’t a lot to show for all of our hard work, so we beat ourselves up because we should have done more.
My sweet neighbor is feeling like a failure because her family’s finances are a bit tighter than she’d like, so she knows Santa won’t be bringing that super special present her daughter really wanted this holiday. And the discouragement is so much deeper knowing that her daughter’s best friend will be ecstatic receiving it on Christmas morning, leaving my neighbor feeling like she’s somehow failed her kids.
Whatever it may be, life isn’t perfect. For any of us. No matter how shiny it may seem on Facebook or crossing paths at the holiday party or waiting in line for school pick up.
The amazing thing is that life does not have to be perfect to be wonderful! And being optimistic is about appreciating the wonderfulness that life offers us in spite of, and especially because of, the imperfections!
Wonderfulness comes from a sense of wonder – which is about approaching life with curiosity, admiration, amazement, and gratitude. And you can have ALL of these things when life is imperfect.
“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” – Gilbert K. Chesterton
This holiday season, I challenge you to shift to gratitude and thanks.
When you or our loved ones are sick, take the moment to be grateful for the people in your life who give you some extra tlc, whether they are bringing you homemade chicken noodle soup or picking up your kids or setting your Thanksgiving table (thanks mom!).
Instead of giving the scale the evil eye or kicking yourself for not being healthier, admire your body for all that it does, and treat your body and soul with the delicious foods that only come once a year. Celebrate that your arms, even if they aren’t beautifully toned like I had been working towards these last few months, are still perfect for hugging the people I care about and spreading some love around.
When you’re struggling with disappointment about not having accomplished more with your work or business, I challenge you to stop and celebrate ALL of the things you have accomplished throughout the year and admire your work. Then, be curious about what the new year brings and start making plans. I know I am continually in awe of the amazing people that surround me through my work and how blessed I am to work with them, and I can’t wait to see what adventures are in store for us collaboratively in the new year.
And instead of letting feelings of failure consume you, especially when it comes to what you give to your family, I encourage you to take the time to admire the joy and connection that you have in being together as a family. Embrace the sense of wonder that can still be celebrated through time together at the holidays and be reminded of looking at the holidays through a child’s eyes. Every weekend I get to spend with my best friend and her kiddos I am reminded that so often the “toy” the kids have the most fun with is the cardboard box we’ve created into a boat or motorcycle. It really can be that simple.
Click to tweet: Give yourself permission to move beyond focusing on the imperfections and explore wonder in other areas of your life.
Is the sky particularly beautiful tonight? I know it has been in New England, with the fall light making it more pink and golden than normal. It’s something I’ve been in awe of almost every night this week.
Did you have a meaningful connection with someone unexpectedly? I did when I was riding the subway a few days ago and had a heartfelt conversation with a complete stranger about what brings her joy.
Is there a blessing in your life that you’ve been taking for granted, that you can remind yourself to revisit with gratitude and admiration? I’ve been reminded this week to express gratitude for the friends who are always there for me, especially in my less than lovely moments, and share with them my appreciation and curiosity for how I can show up for them in equally meaningful ways.
Whatever you might be experiencing in life right now, I encourage you to approach it with a lens of wonder, of curiosity, of awe, and of gratitude. And let us know what those lenses let you see at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Facebook or Instagram. Because life doesn’t have to be perfect to be wonderful.
Elizabeth & the Davine Team