Most of us see Christmas as a time of good cheer. But cheerfulness isn’t a given when you are the parent of teenagers. As part of the 12 days of Christmas, today I’m looking at how to cultivate a cheerful spirit in your family.
With a house full of teenagers, last night we had ‘the talk’. It was a State of the Nation address about what’s happening for Christmas. You can imagine how well it went down… Like a scene from Snow White, one was happy, one was sleeping and the other was a tad grumpy. But we’ll get through it!
The Encyclopedia for Positive Psychology says that cheerfulness helps us see the brighter side of life. It’s a “disposition for amusement and laughter”. People of good cheer have better health, a longer life and less stress. So if you’ve found yourself with a Grinch in the house, or within yourself, give these ideas a try to bring out the festive spirit.
1. Find things to laugh about. Laughter is the start of good cheer. There’s something about getting those smile muscles working that also gets the brain going. Tell some jokes, watch a comedy, have a go at karaoke, or play a game that has a chance of getting at least a smile out of your kids.
2. Slow down. Christmas is a great time to pare back life and makes some space to relax and just be. When you remove the rush, you often find your mood will lift in the stillness.
3. Go over the top. If there’s a gloomy climate in your Christmas house, then paint a different scene. Ramp up the decorations, Put out a few treats and make every afternoon happy hour. Most people can’t help but get drawn into joyful activities.
4. Use the power of food. It’s amazing how your mood can lift when you gather with others at the table and enjoy a meal together. The power is in the connection, not in what you eat. The passing of plates, the cheerful banter. Holidays are the perfect time to draw your family back to the table for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
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5. Count your blessings. Gratitude underpins cheerfulness. If you’re grateful for the little things around you, you’re more likely to feel good about your life. To feel that you have a good life.
“A cheerful heart brings a smile to your face; a sad heart makes it hard to get through the day.” – Hebrew proverb
6. Challenge faulty thinking. We all have a record in our heads that tells us what other people think about us. But it’s not always right. If your playlist needs correcting, then do it. And if you hear one of your kids say something that’s not right, sort that out too. It’s not about hollow praise and making people feel good about themselves. It’s about seeing ourselves the way others do.
7. Make others feel good. Giving something away or being a blessing to others is a great way to feel better about yourself. Look for opportunities to bring cheer to others this Christmas.
8. Get up first. There’s nothing like having the house to yourself in the quiet of a breaking day. Even if you’re not a morning person, having those first few moments to wake up can lift your spirits for the whole day.
9. Stay positive. Don’t let your mind wander into the world of “what ifs” or linger on what’s not going well in life right now. Face your difficulties, make a plan and be optimistic. Ask others for help if you need to.
10. Give people a place to retreat to. Some people don’t cope well with all the good cheer of Christmas. So give them a space to retreat to and the time to do it. You can’t force someone else to be cheerful, but you can refuse to let yours die out too.
Cheerfulness is as much a habit as it is a character trait. If we do a few things each day to be of good cheer, we’re likely to find ourselves enjoying life more. Just like exercise is good for our health. So this Christmas, don’t just hide your good cheer under the tree, but unwrap it early and spread it with joy.
Article supplied with thanks to Rachel Doherty from Tweens 2 Teen. Rachel helps those living and working with young people, through supervision, coaching, speaking and consulting.