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3 Simple Ways to Be Happy This Holiday Season (and all year long...)

Want to cultivate happiness not only in this holiday season but all year long?

* Take care of yourself.

* Think kindly of yourself.

* Set realistic expectations on yourself.

Why does focusing on you matter so much to your happiness?

Think about it: If you are unhealthy (emotionally, physically, spiritually), speaking nasty things to yourself about yourself, and letting perfectionist standards dictate your actions, how could you experience happiness this holiday season? Happiness is a choice we make for ourselves: external factors can only serve to enhance what's going on inside of us.

How do we actually choose to make ourselves happy, especially during the craziness of the holiday season? Here are a few choices you can make:

Choose to treat yourself well every day. The holiday season places a number of new demands on us, often causing us to be shoved to the bottom of the "list" if we even get placed on it all. Prioritizing your needs for physical, emotional, and mental wellness matters. If your needs aren't met, chances are happiness will be elusive. Look for ways to incorporate your needs into your regular activities and consider choosing to end unhealthy activities in order to replace them with ones that nurture you.

Choose to think kind thoughts of yourself. What thoughts are you thinking about yourself as you face the holidays? If you are focusing on all the ways you are not good enough and how you might not measure up, you probably are not going to generate happiness. Our thoughts matter. Choose to be kind to yourself and ignore the lies. Choose to listen to the truth about yourself instead. You are valuable. You are beautiful. You are forgiven. You are not alone. You are free.

Choose to accept yourself as you are right now. You are a work in progress, and always will be until the day Jesus takes you home. Accept that. Let go of perfectionist standards or the "when I am...(insert area you feel lacking in here) I'll be happier" mentality. Especially in the holiday season, perfectionism can take over and ruin even the simplest of holiday events. Instead, focus on what is positive, the potential for success over the potential for failure in any situation, and let go of unhealthy expectations on yourself and others.

BONUS Option: Choose to get some sunlight daily. The fall and winter months become the shortest the closer we get to December 21 (happy news: Starting Dec 22, the days begin to get longer!). Get outside as much as you can to get the Vitamin D we all need which is a great mood enhancer and stabilizer. It becomes a bonus if you can do something fun in the process!

How you take care of yourself, the kindness you show yourself, and the expectations you place on yourself matter.

May you choose to cultivate happiness today and reap the benefits of that choice all year long.

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