Choose Joy this Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is this week. It’s the busiest travel week of the year.  People wanting to connect with family and friends.  It’s sort of a back to the basics, isn’t it? Back to the things that are most important?  We tend to make time for the most significant times — holidays, weddings, funerals –with the people we love the most, or feel an obligation to.  Often we get caught up in the chaos and hurry of our lives, and it takes an effort to pause and step out of our routines.

I think every day we wake up and believe that the world may have changed a little, but not radically.  And that’s not true.  It changes radically every day.  I’ve heard it said that one out of five of us are in a storm.  And if you aren’t, someone you know is.  My hope is that during this week, even in the midst of happiness, chaos, frustration and change, you will choose joy.

Albert Ellis suggested that people mistakenly blame external events for unhappiness. He argued, however, that it is our interpretation of these events that truly lies at the heart of our psychological distress. To explain this process, Ellis developed what he referred to as the ABC Model:

  • A – Activating Event: Something happens in the environment surrounding you
  • B – Beliefs: You hold a belief or opinion about the event or situation
  • C – Consequence: You have an emotional response to that belief or opinion

And often we respond behaviorally, verbally or physically to our emotion. So what if this week, something doesn’t go the way you planned it?  The turkey is burned and dry, a loved one is out of the country and unable to celebrate, your house is a complete disaster and there really is no table to sit around, your flight is delayed or worse yet cancelled, dear Aunt Bertha, or your brother or sister or in-laws are being themselves which is not so easy to deal with, or, or or…?  What if in that moment, you decide to change your beliefs about what is happening, and therefore you have a different response and action?  It really could change the whole experience.

There are things we have control over, and things we don’t. Take charge of the things you can, and let go of the others.  Actually, in the end, the choice comes down to you.  Your thoughts.  Your beliefs.  Your actions.  Not even really death or taxes.  Just you and how you choose to see and live life.  That’s the most important choice of all.

 

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