Cultivating a Joyful Holiday

By Rev. Myra McFadden
 Cultivating a Joyful Holiday

This article originally appeared in the December 2011 issue of Daily Word®.

Like so many people, I look forward to the holiday season. I’ve celebrated many special holidays in my life when I’ve had the opportunity to gather with family and friends to express our love and gratitude for each other and the world.

In these times, my joy came readily but in other years, when my family was not available or when I was in the middle of a painful life experience, my joy didn’t come as effortlessly. In those times, I needed to make a choice. I knew that if I was to feel joy, I would need to cultivate it in my mind and heart.

Regardless of the particular circumstances surrounding this holiday season, one thing is true: All of us can make a commitment to create a peaceful, joyful holiday.

One way to begin is by choosing to intentionally take a little time for joy each day. Ironically, it is easy to lose sight of our natural joy during the holidays, especially when we are overly busy or simply don’t feel it. By taking a little time for joy each and every day, we help ourselves feel lighter and nurtured. Joy isn’t something that happens to us; it’s our spiritual nature.

We can also decide to nurture ourselves, even in little ways. If we make a commitment to give ourselves some simple pleasures, we will increase our joy. For me, this means that I take the time daily to read a chapter in a novel or that I plan ways to spend time in nature.

Third, we can cultivate joy by celebrating the good that is already present in our lives. One of the greatest spiritual gifts we have is the ability to live in gratitude. When there are many wonderful things happening to us, it is easy to be grateful. But even if we find ourselves struggling with sadness this holiday season, we can make the conscious effort to celebrate the good. There will still be something for which we can honestly be grateful, even if it requires greater work on our part. It can be the smallest thing, such as appreciation for a smile that comes our way or the unexpected kindness of a friend. When we are willing to look at familiar situations through the eyes of thankfulness, we will find a renewed sense of appreciation for the many blessings that surround us.

May this holiday season be peaceful and joyful for you. May you enjoy yourself in the smallest of moments, and may you find pleasure in your own nurturing. Lastly, may you live in gratitude!

Rev. Myra McFadden is senior minister at One Community Spiritual Center in Kansas City, Missouri.