Be the Boss of You


It's good advice always, but especially at the holidays, be the boss of you.  Guard your mind and watch your tongue to make a way for peace.

"Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.  Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you."                             Philippians 4:8-9

Here it comes again--the holidays.  It doesn't really matter whether you're talking about Thanksgiving or any of the December holidays celebrated by people of different religions or no religion at all.  It's all supposed to generate feelings of gratitude, peace, joy, and love.  Ha!

To be fair, most of us can point to some years of our lives when "the holidays" did just that.  But the longer we live, the more likely we are to encounter holiday seasons when we would like to rip to shreds every Normal Rockwell painting we can find.  We find ourselves stressed just thinking about navigating the time pressures, family issues, and financial burdens that are poured into the holiday pressure cooker.  And that's before you add in the truly significant losses and hardships that can make any particular year almost unbearable: The empty seat at the table, the mental illness, the loss of income, the abuse or acute loneliness that is muffled behind our wreath-adorned door.

So many of us try to tune out by checking our favorite sites online.  There, in place of the personal worries we are trying to escape, there are friends asking us to sign petitions to end terrible abuses, with the videos of said abuses to convince us. There are news stories about terrors and wars, beheadings, rapes, and political rants designed to make us hate each other.  You can't even veg out in front of the Weather Channel without hearing and seeing the devastating impact of a natural disaster somewhere.

Sometimes realizing how bad some people have it can bring important perspective, especially if we come from a background of privilege.  We can always find someone in worse circumstances than ours, which can help to turn our minds toward gratitude for what we have rather than anger or anxiety over what we don't.  But I think Paul, in the passage from Philippians above, has still a better way.

It's good advice always, but especially at the holidays, be the boss of you.  Guard your mind.  If you go online, do a search for good news sites.  There's actually a Good News page on Huffington Post and there's the page for CNN Heroes. Probably other news sites have uplifing pages as well. But be sure to bookmark just that page and don't stray to other pages on the header or the other news will send you back to the pit.  Sit back and watch videos like this.

Search on "cute [insert favorite thing here]" or "soothing nature photos" or "heroic stories" or "best sports moments" or "inspirational songs."  Play Mozart, watch a movie in which humanity triumphs, or just sit down and make a list of five things for which you are thankful and keep doing that every day from now through New Year's.  Give others the benefit of the doubt and the gift of your patience--they're in the pressure cooker, too.

Guard your mind and watch your tongue.  Be vigilant both about what goes in and what comes out. Whatever is true, honorable, pleasing, commendable, excellent, worthy of praise--think on these things; speak these things; and the outcome over time will be peace.  It's both good Bible and good psychology.  Doing it will not change your outward circumstances.  You may still be too poor to afford Christmas presents.  You may still eat mac and cheese alone on Thanksgiving.  Your loved one may still be only a memory.  But you will know peace.



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