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Creating Your Holiday Experience

December 20th, 2010 by Steve Pavlina

I've seen a few forum members lamenting that they'll be spending the holidays alone. It appears that this isn't what they want, but they've resigned themselves to it anyway. Their messages broadcast an air of sadness and perhaps a little regret.

It's perfectly fine to spend a holiday alone if that's what you want to experience. There can be many reasons for wanting to do so. Perhaps you value your solitude. Perhaps you don't celebrate certain holidays or find them too commercialized. Or perhaps you just need a break from people. Again, if this is your choice, that's absolutely fine.

But what if your preference is to enjoy a social holiday, and that doesn't seem to be happening? What if you're facing the situation of spending a holiday alone, and you'd rather not have that experience?

The people who find themselves in this situation aren't using their power to proactively create what they desire. They're being too passive to get good results. It's as if they're hoping for some grand invitation to come out of nowhere, when they're scarcely lifting a finger to make their desires a reality. They often invest more energy in complaining than in creating, which is great way to get what they don't want.

Of course if I were to be honest with such people and say to them, "You're using your power stupidly. Stop doing that. It's dumb." they might try to drown me in the punch bowl. So I'll write about it instead, which is much safer. :)

I can empathize with such people and feel compassion for them, but I also know that the "Oh poor baby" approach won't help much. I'd rather offer some realistic advice to get them moving in a positive direction, even if it pisses them off at first. Anger is a higher vibration than sadness, so that's actually a step in the right direction.

This situation is really no different from the person who complains about not being able to find a job while sitting on the couch watching TV or surfing the Internet all day. Does this person expect the phone to start ringing with job offers?

Reaching Out

There's no reason you can't create a wonderful holiday experience for yourself if you're willing to get off your butt and make it happen.

It's silly that so many people spend the holidays in solitude when they could be having a fun, social experience, if only they would take a few simple actions. There are lots of people who'd love to spend the holidays with someone who invited them.

This doesn't mean you have to spend your holidays with people you don't get along with. I'm not suggesting that you tag along for an experience you wouldn't enjoy. But I am suggesting that you have the power to create something fun that works for you.

What kind of people would you like to spend your holidays with? What kinds of activities would you enjoy? Take some time to identify your desires. If you want to spend the holidays alone, that's fine. But if you'd rather have a fun, festive, social experience, what would that look like? Give yourself permission to dream.

Now tell me this. Is it physically impossible to create this holiday you desire? If you really wanted to make it happen, could you do it? Could someone else do it if they were in your shoes?

What's preventing you from making it happen? The problem is seldom "out there." It's usually due to a lack of inner development like low courage or weak social skills. These are fixable problems though. We all start out with certain weaknesses of character, but those weaknesses can be corrected.

Your holiday will ultimately turn out the way you create it to be. You can create a lonely experience, or you can create a festive one. You're always creating something.

The very act of identifying what you desire is a big positive step forward, even if you don't see how to make it happen. Sometimes that's all it takes, and great opportunities will come to you. That won't happen unless you know what you want, however.

What does it take to create a wonderful holiday for yourself? Do you need to bake some cookies? Make some phone calls? Invite people over? Ask others if you can celebrate with them?

Redefining Family Traditions

Some of us grow up with socially conditioned notions of how we should spend the holidays. Since I grew up Catholic, I had pretty rigid notions of how certain holidays are supposed to be celebrated. As I got older, I still liked some of those traditions, but other aspects no longer resonated with me.

I realized that I have the power to create whatever kind of holiday experience I desire. I don't have to settle for a tradition that no longer works for me. I can keep the parts I like and add new ideas as well.

I celebrated the last two Thanksgivings by going to a local raw vegan potluck with 25-30 people, many of whom are friends of mine. I ate an amazing variety of food, had some great conversations, and enjoyed what I perceived to be a more conscious and compassionate way to celebrate this holiday. As I expected, my raw blueberry pie was gobbled up in no time. I loved all the amazing creations people brought — it was much more colorful than a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. And instead of feeling sleepy afterwards, I felt energized.

On Halloween I was delivering the final day of our last Conscious Growth Workshop. I invited everyone to wear costumes, and about 50 people did so. I delivered the workshop dressed as Obi-Wan Kenobi from Star Wars. I had a blast, and the attendees seemed to enjoy the festive atmosphere as well. It made the learning experience more fun and memorable. I realized that I have the power to create a fun experience whenever I want, even if when I'm speaking on a stage.

Tomorrow I'm catching a flight to Winnipeg, Canada. This will be the coldest place I've ever visited and my first White Christmas ever. It's about 5 degrees F there right now, so I'll probably freeze, but I'm looking forward to the new experience. Rachelle and I plan to do some cross-country skiing, and hopefully we can squeeze in a snowball fight with her friends. We also intend to host a Winnipeg meet-up at The Forks.

These are very different experiences than what I had growing up, but they didn't just happen. I invited them into my life.

Some people also like the experience of doing volunteer work on the holidays. Feed homeless people, pass out gifts to poor kids, or volunteer at a shelter. Does that appeal to you? How hard can it be to find a place to serve?

You have the ability to create whatever holiday experience you desire. It's simply a matter of deciding what you want and exercising your power to make it happen. You're a creative being. Creating a certain holiday experience is within your power.

Building Your Social Skills

Sometimes wonderful invitations will land in your lap. Other times you have to go out and make them happen.

Let me suggest that if no invitations are forthcoming, that's because you're the one who's supposed to do the inviting. Everyone else is waiting on you. Don't let them down.

Creating your own social gathering is a skill. You may not be an expert at it. I'm no Martha Stewart, but with each year I learn a little more about hosting events. I can't say it's a major strength of mine, but I've hosted some potlucks and get-togethers now and then. They've been fun experiences.

Building social skills is like building muscle. The more you train, the stronger you get. When you don't exercise your skills for a while, they atrophy and you grow weaker. That's when you look at something like spending the holidays alone and see it as a daunting problem. In the grand scheme of things, it's a small problem and one that a person with well-developed social skills could solve with a few phone calls. If it seems like a big deal to you, you've allowed your social muscles to atrophy to the point where a 5-pound weight seems too heavy to lift. If that's you, then I'd suggest putting some serious effort into building your social skills during the next year. You can start by joining clubs and going to meet-ups, such as the ones you'll find locally at Meetup.com.

Being socially weak isn't a life sentence. It's your choice if you want to maintain the status quo or become stronger. When you become socially competent, it's fairly easy to design your own holiday experience, invite people you like, and have a fun experience together. It's not like people need a ton of convincing to say yes to a celebration invitation.

If everyone says no because you creep them out or they'd rather do something else, that just means you need to keep working on your social skills — and probably your self-esteem as well. This is an important path of development for you.

Social Abundance

As you continue to develop your social connections, you may reach the point where you're getting more invitations than you can handle. This is a good problem to have, but don't forget that you're the ultimate creator of your experience.

It can be tempting to always pick from among the options that are offered to you, but realize that you always have the option of creating something new. Even if you get invited to lots of holiday parties, you can still host your own. You have the power to create whatever experience you desire, regardless of other people's expectations. Don't be afraid to say no to the good, so you can say yes to the best.

Creating What You Want

The way to create the holiday experience you desire is to: (1) Let yourself dream about it, to get a sense of what you really want; and (2) Dive into action to move yourself in the direction of that reality. Keep taking action till you figure out how to make it work. Your results won't be perfect, but you'll get a result that's better than nothing, and you'll learn so many lessons that you can apply next time.

The way to create the holiday experience you don't want is to: (1) Think about what you don't want, and (2) Feel bad about it. You can also complain about it to others. Sprinkle some pity on top for good measure, and you'll have a nice little gift to yourself — the kind of gift you'd rather not receive.

The difference between these two options is choice. Which choice will you make?

I'm choosing the first option. I'm going to enjoy my frozen holiday in Winnipeg. :)

Happy Holidays!