a close look at this season of Season's Greetings. This
time of year is simultaneously the most intensely joyful
and the most intensely difficult of any time period in
our annual journey around the sun. Take this simple test
I devised (without benefit, by the way, of any scientific
studies whatever) to see where you fall on Green's Gleefulness
Scale. (A snappy acronym gives these things more credibility
so we'll call this test the G2S.)
part is reasonably straight-forward. As we test your joyfulness,
give yourself 2 points for each one of these qualities
with which you agree. Do you take the time (1) to cozy
up with your family and (2) often traveling great distances
to do so? (3) Do you devote energy to re-uniting family
ties? (4) Do you take this opportunity to ponder life
and its meaning? (5) Do you find you can revel in the
joys of watching children react to this Season. (6) Does
the change in the weather bring its own beauty, and (7)
do the shorter days encourage you to stay indoors and
interact with friends and family? And, finally, (8) do
you feel that this is a potentially wondrous time of year?
If you agreed
with all eight of those qualities, you get 16 points and
are an example to all of us.
On the other
hand the stresses of this Season are potentially equal
in strength to the joys and are fully capable of being
the source of some serious seasonal obstacles. Unless
you think about it and take some measures to deal with
them, it is unfortunately all too easy to fall prey to
the Holiday Season Stresses.
Here are the
negatives. Subtract 1 point for each of these qualities
you feel is a factor in your life. Why only one point
for each negative quality? Unless you're a died-in-the-wool,
card-carrying depressive, you know that the good outweighs
the bad. Here, then, are the negatives.
(1) Your family
is too spread out to visit. (2) Family interactions are
painful and non-nurturing. (3) The shorter days are depressing.
(4) You don't like snow. (5) You don't like children.
(6) You feel pressure to spend more money than you should.
(7) You feel guilty about receiving gifts. (8) You don't
feel people want to spend time with you. (9) You worry
about the balance of gifts, whether you received less
than you gave. (10) You feel that you should be doing
more than you are; you just don't know what that is. And
(11) pondering life and its meaning is even more depressing
than spending money you don't have on gifts you don't
want to give to people who you suspect don't care if you
do or don't give them anything.
That one is
worth repeating. Pondering life and its meaning is even
more depressing than spending money you don't have on
gifts you don't want to give to people who you suspect
don't care if you do or don't give them anything.
your negatives from your positives.
If your score
on my nationally unrecognized Green's Gleefulness Scale
is in the positive range, and even a "+1" is
good, then you're probably going to handle the Season
alright. If your number is negative, and even a "-1"
could signal trouble, reconsider your point of view.
After all that's
what it is. Point of view.
Look at life
one way, and it's terrible. Look at it another, and it's
at least workable. That's how we get stressed in the first
place. It doesn't come from outside us.
We make it.
All of it. All the time.
me state that stress is a reaction to our environment.
In fact, it's an over-reaction. When we identify something
we individually perceive as a problem, we over-react.
That signals our brain to prepare our body for a life
threatening disaster. That's right. If you are reacting
stressfully to this Season, actually if you react stressfully
to anything, then your body is preparing for a life threatening
There is something
that can be done. And it's simple enough.
One of my teachers
often repeated that the highest quality existence can
be had by looking at life through the eyes of a child.
And to do that we need to observe everything with "eyes
of wonder". As if you were seeing everything for
the first time.
is the first snowflake. The first child's smile. The first
spiced apple cider by a fireplace. The first handshake
from someone who wishes you well. The first hug. The first
taste of cranberry sauce. The first crush of crazed shoppers
fighting to spend their last penny to buy happiness.
Well, you get
the idea anyway.
I hope you
have a good Season.
The gift we
all get is that it truly is our choice.