kregg nance

How to Not Hate Holiday Parties

by Kregg Nance, MA
Author of “Get the F Out of My Life: A Men’s Breakup Survive and Thrive Guide”

Since the holiday season is upon us, people who are struggling through a tough time may have a hard time seeing everyone around them smiling and laughing while they are internally feeling bad.

I’ve never been a fan of someone telling me to “think positive thoughts”. I found something that works better for me. I call it Do It Anyway, no matter what I’m thinking or feeling.

It’s different from the big shoe company’s phrase of “Just Do It”. That’s great for super athletes who are really disciplined, but I needed something that works for flawed people like me. I found that when I did something positive, even though I didn’t feel like it, I would ultimately feel better, maybe not at that moment, but over time.

The pursuit of happiness is a long game, not a short play. Happiness is a mindset as much as a feeling. We can have control over our happiness, no matter the situation that has been thrust upon us.

By adding the word anyway to doing something, I am able to frame a mindset that works to get me through it. In other words, the word anyway is an acknowledgment that I do have internal struggles, but I am choosing to go beyond those struggles to do something.

“Just do it” sounds like a shaming way to frame it and that does work for some people, especially elite athletes. But shaming doesn’t work if you haven’t yet acknowledged your struggles and put them in context.

After writing my book on helping men get past a tough breakup, the research indicates that doing it anyway can help rewire the brain. There are more and more studies showing that neuroplasticity, which is the brain’s ability to rewire itself, gives us great hope to be able to have some control on getting better after tough times.

So, you will likely be invited to holiday parties over the next few weeks. If you are not feeling great, you could elect to not go, because seeing all those people having a great time will make you feel more lonely inside. I’m suggesting, instead, to frame it to yourself that you will go anyway, for a limited amount of time that you can set such as two hours, and smile and enjoy yourself. Keep in mind that your behavior is helping to rewire your brain for greater happiness down the line.

When you get home, you can decompress and let your feelings out if needed or just bask in your accomplishment of going anyway.

So, this holiday season, smile anyway, go to parties anyway, wish people a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah or Happy Holidays anyway. Do it anyway and get the benefit in 2020 and beyond.

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