Hello, All Readers Who Celebrate Christmas,
Elvis Presley wasn’t the only one singing about having a Blue Christmas.
Unfortunately, millions of people experience depression, anxiety, hunger, loneliness, or unfulfilled expectations this time of year. This is in part due to the notion that everyone–except maybe ourselves–is having a perfect “Norman Rockwell” Christmas. You know: the happy family gathered around the Christmas tree, opening the perfect gifts because they got everything on their wish lists. Surely, we are missing out somehow and want to partake of this joy.
I think many of us really know deep down that most of these expectations are the stuff of fantasy–dreaming the impossible dream. Dare I add selfishness? Nonetheless, our idealism, desires, and sense of nostalgia perhaps cause us to hope our dreams will still come true with a “Christmas miracle” like in a Hallmark movie. I’ve been guilty of this for too many Christmases. Enter unrealistic expectations, an enormous letdown, and a Blue, self-centered Christmas.
Can a Blue Christmas be avoided or shut down all together? Yes! But it takes practice to habituate.
If I read Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist Viktor Frankl (1905-1997) correctly, Christmas would be the perfect time to pay forward his model of “Self-Transcendence.” That’s the practice of shifting one’s focus from the Self to the Other. It’s also a shift in values from extrinsic motivations–materialism, for example–to intrinsic motivations, where a charitable activity is its own reward, allowing for the growth of an increase in moral concern for those less fortunate than ourselves. And the world is full of such opportunities!
But there’s more. Self-transcendence can help us create true meaning in our lives and develop a strong sense of wellbeing. Our best selves can spring forth from our worst selves as we ingrain an optimistic worldview in human potential, Frankl believed.
If we replace or forestall our inward angst with a helpful spirit, we will gain positivity. Positivity can squelch a Blue Christmas before you’ve even decorated the tree.
And if you’d like to read more of Frankl’s ideas that can help way beyond just Christmas, look for his book, Man’s Search for Meaning. You can find used copies on Amazon HERE.
So, get a clue, dear Christmas celebrants. Isn’t there someone nearby who could use your help to lift them out of their Blue Christmas? If you step up, your reward will be a Bright Christmas. Move over, Elvis. Merry, Bright Christmas to all!