🎧 Listen to Jess on the Mountain podcast

How to Have Happier Holidays

I hope your Thanksgiving was restful or exciting, whichever direction you wanted it to go. Mine was a little of both–restful with family, fun, and food, and exciting–How ‘bout those Texas Longhorns?  


Either way, I hope it was happy. I’ve been following the recent press about Oprah’s new book, “Build the Life You Want: The Art and Sciences of Getting Happier.” She co-wrote it with Harvard professor Arthur C. Brooks, who teaches a class all about happiness, and has written other books on the topic as well.


Whenever I hear about a new research on happiness my ears and interest definitely perk up. After all, happiness is a basic human desire I think we all have, so the quest for it captures my attention every time. Yoga also has a long history of helping people make their lives happier through the balance and awareness of mind, body, and spirit, so it's kinda my jam.


This quest for happiness has been going on for thousands of years. So much so, the Yoga Sutras comment on it and advise how to get closer to it. We may be living in a time of great loneliness and emotional challenges, but there are many ways to foster happiness.


So as we head into the season of wishing everyone “Happy Holidays,” I thought I’d share a little of what I’ve gleaned lately from this new spin on an ancient desire to be happy. 


First, the goal isn’t to be happy. The goal is to be happier. Happy is not a destination or a place you will arrive. It is a condition that grows as you put your intention behind it. That’s why you can be happi-ER. It’s on a very long spectrum. And the spectrum includes unhappiness.  


Yep–in order to feel and understand what it is to be happy, we must include and experience what it is to be unhappy. In other words, to be happy, we must also accept unhappiness. (I don’t know about you, but when I pause for a moment and accept the unhappy times in my life, I can relax my expectations around the whole thing and there is more space to breathe.) Unhappiness happens. Accepting this as part of life will help you be happier!


According to the research presented in Oprah’s book, happiness has a recipe with three ingredients. So for these to be happier holidays, focus on:


Satisfaction.  What if you took for granted that however your holiday time goes, it’s enough and exactly as it should be? Your kids are visiting for enough days. You have enough plans and decorations. You put enough thought and effort into your shopping, travels, and gatherings, that you can be satisfied with the way things go. Be satisfied with how things are! 


Enjoyment. Release a goal- or outcome-oriented mindset and, for these days, simply be present to what is without expectation or conditions. Presence is the best present of all! Simply be with your loved ones, friends, and others in your life for the sake of being together. Enjoy the holidays the way you might a sunset or a massage. Slow down and remember to be in the happy moments. They will multiply with your attention! 


Purpose. Think of this as intention, or the reason for the season. How can you infuse this time with connection to something bigger than yourself? Some people focus on daily prayer or meditation, some see this as a time to help out others in need.  Consider how these last days of 2023 can be personally meaningful and make a positive impact in the world (or at least your neighborhood)! 


Notice how none of these involve spending lots of money or acquiring more stuff. Shared experiences multiply our happiness, so gather with one or many and get happier with satisfaction, enjoyment, and purpose! I think I just found the theme for our Yoga Gathering this weekend… ;)


May you have the happiest of holiday seasons! I look forward to practicing these with you on the mat and in the world. 


Much love

Don't miss a post! Subscribe to the blog

Receive a weekly newsletter with the most recent blog post and up-to-date announcements for yoga events, both online and in person!  I will never share your information. 


50% Complete

Sign up for my weekly newsletter and never miss a blog post, an event, a class, or special.