I am very happy you’ve joined me to read this post. But, I’m not always content, especially during the Christmas season.

This is why I love God’s Words of Wisdom in Ecclesiastes.

Ecclesiastes 8:1 (TLB)

How wonderful to be wise, to understand things, to be able to analyze them and interpret them. Wisdom lights up a man’s face, softening its hardness.

During the Christmas season, many people struggle. Even if you start out happy, shopping, planning menus, and a variety of relatives and disappointments can shift your happiness to irritation—and maybe even sadness.

I met my husband Chuck in 1983, just before the holidays. On one of our first dates he wanted to share stories of Christmases past, present and future. A great idea, right? But as soon as he mentioned the word “past” I was out. With a broken family, lost loved ones and unpleasant experiences that can still make me sad, my past was a topic I avoided at all costs. I needed God’s wisdom to soften some of the hardness that gave me a bad outlook.

Here are Three Points, Three Stories, and Three Simple Ideas.

Point One: Jump up and Down! Just try it! You’ll have to try hard to stifle a smile.

Larry Crabb, a well-known counselor and author from Colorado tells the following story:

I tumbled out of a crowded elevator into a hotel lobby teeming with conference participants. I leaned toward my wife to tell her I had just seen Brennan (Manning), he turned and saw us. Immediately, he jumped up and down. I was warmed to the bottom of my heart. (Crabb, Connecting, pg 71).

Think about your family: Your husband, your wife, your children. How do you greet them when you’re at your busiest, or at your worst? How you feel does not have to determine how you greet them. Actually, it’s often best to put other things aside, especially difficult things, until another time. A warm greeting lays a great foundation.

I wake up two hours before my husband Chuck. When he gets up he comes right down the hallway to my office then stops and smiles until I jump up for a morning hug. He could go the other way, out into the kitchen for his first cup of coffee, bypassing me altogether. But he makes a statement that he wants to see me first, and I respond by jumping up for my morning hug.

The easiest thing you can do is greet your family with a smile. In my next point you’ll see why!

Idea #1Jump up and Down! When you give a smile, you usually get one back.

Point Two: Act Happy

I’m going to teach a you bit of sign language. Two signs. Happy – place your hand over your heart and pat with an upward motion, and Mad – scrunch your face with your hand in front, then pull it quickly away into a fist. Can you picture it?

If you could choose, isn’t being happy the better choice? The good news is you can choose!

You might be thinking, but what if I don’t feel happy? Here’s an experiment: Let’s say your living room is a mess and company is expected in 5 minutes. You’re mad because your husband was supposed to clean it. Then, you look over at your baby in a bouncy chair who gives you a big grin and giggle. Did your feeling change? I’d wager it changed quickly and drastically.

My husband Chuck is a Christian counselor, and author of Marriage Recall. He uses a term called “Act-as-if.” The idea is that you can make a decision to act differently than your emotions tell you, if you do your emotions are likely to follow your actions.

Right now, I’m upset with a friend who doesn’t respond to invites and if she does, it’s often cancelled. I might really struggle to “jump up and down” when I see her. But she is also a very talented artist with a vibrant, fun personality that is very enjoyable.

If I focus on who she is rather than how I feel, my thoughts shift and I my hardness softens. If you could choose, isn’t happy the better choice? The good news is you can!

Idea #2By choosing to act happy, your emotions will likely follow!

Point Three: Do What You’re Told

Another idea that Chuck shares is a scientific fact: You cannot think two thoughts at the same time.

If I ask you to think of a pink polka-dotted elephant wearing a tie shaped like a Christmas tree, what will you think of? You may think I told you what to think, but I merely suggested. You had to accept the thought and tell yourself to think it.

Whatever mood we’re in, whatever disappointment we hold on to, whatever attitude we have—we allow it.

I have great and lengthy discussions with myself. Sometimes early in the morning, I can go as far as arguing with Chuck, listing the grievances one by one, holding him accountable for things he doesn’t even know he’s done. He loses all of these arguments before he even wakes up! It’s true. I realize how silly this is, usually after I’ve exhausted myself.

All this time, I tell myself what to think and make matters worse. What can I tell myself instead?

The problem isn’t that bad. I’m just tired. He’s a really great guy, I’m sure I just misunderstood. We’ll clear this up, we always do!

Idea #3: Remember each thought is a choice. You can always stop and make the right one!

We are in the midst of the Christmas season. To help make our celebrations the best they can be, let’s:

  • Jump Up and Down for our loved ones, we set the tone that they are the most important part of our day.
  • Act Happy, even if we don’t feel happy, we can lead our emotions instead of them leading us.
  • Do What We’re Told, by choosing which thoughts to accept and take responsibility to choose the right ones, like a pink polka-dotted elephant!

All of these will light up our faces and soften our hardness, and make our interactions all the better for ourselves and those around us.

Ecclesiastes 8:1 (TLB)

How wonderful to be wise, to understand things, to be able to analyze them and interpret them. Wisdom lights up a man’s face, softening its hardness.

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Campsite Six by Jan Fallon

Campsite Six by Jan Fallon

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Everyone—in heaven and on earth—was searching for Evie Clayborn. One had the worst of intentions. They had to find her first. It was her only hope.

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