It’s the Hap, Happiest Time of the Year… ’Tis the Season to be Jolly…We Wish You a Merry Christmas…
Psychologists recognize that the holiday season can heighten stress, anxiety and even depression. Our emotional state can be negatively impacted by external images of the perfect holiday season – TV commercials with blissful families smiling gleefully at the dinner table, commercials inducing you to buy your spouse a luxury car wrapped with giant red bow, over-packed malls and pressure to spend, and smiling Facebook friends jet setting off to an island retreat.
Compounded with these external, sometimes “grass is greener” images, we are faced with our own family and/or financial situations as we try to keep up with client work, complete year end administrative tasks and other work obligations. It can be difficult to let things go in order to enjoy what the holiday season has to offer.
Luckily, we can all leverage the framework of Emotional Intelligence (EI or EQ) to increase our happiness as we move through the holiday season.
Emotional Intelligence is not just being nice to others or having a sunny disposition. Neither is it based on simply one thing that we “have” that is either too “high” or too “low.” The authors of one of the most researched and used EQ assessments on the market today, the EQ-i 2.0®, define Emotional Intelligence as:
“ … A set of emotional and social skills that collectively establish how well we perceive and express ourselves, develop and maintain social relationships, cope with challenges and use emotional information in an effective and meaningful way.” Multi-Health Systems
These emotional and social skills work together to create emotional balance, increase self-awareness and help us to navigate the external pressures and conditions of life. Healthy EQ is essential for maintaining trusting relationships both at work and at home. In fact, mounting research tells us that healthy EQ may be more important than IQ for leadership success. The good news is that unlike IQ, EQ skills and abilities can be developed with awareness and practice.
So how does Happiness fit into the equation and what can we do to increase our Happiness during the holiday season?
Happiness as an EQ skill has its own separate score on assessments such as the EQ-i 2.0®. In the world of EQ, Happiness is much more than a feeling. It’s a marker of our overall emotional well-being. Happiness is both an indication and outcome of our Emotional Intelligence.
Research shows that there are four skills, which when strengthened, can increase our Happiness. We can look at these four skills as a roadmap to promote our well-being. No matter your particular situation(s) this holiday season, if you are finding that stress, anxiety or even depression is getting the best of you, here are some suggestions increase your Happiness.
Self-Regard – the ability to accept ourselves as we are, with all of our associated strengths and weaknesses; more than self-confidence – inner strength and contentment; the ability to say, “Yep, that’s me, I know what I do well, and I have failings in other areas, but I am OK with that”
- Think about a time (maybe last Christmas or New Year’s?) when you faced the same situation and saw a successful outcome – write down or mentally trace the steps that you took to reach that outcome and apply them to the current situation.
- Is something in the situation triggering negative self-talk? Identify what that may be and look for whether there is concrete evidence to prove that what you are saying to yourself is so. Can you reframe the situation to see yourself in a different light and think about yourself in different terms?
Optimism – finding the positive and seeking meaning when things get rough; looking forward and presuming that things will turn out OK
- Are you part of a networking or other group that is not sustaining or nurturing you in the way that you need in the moment? Consider taking a break during the holiday season; give yourself time to reflect and identify what kind of group might bring you more meaning and a positive upbeat feeling.
- If you know you are headed for a particularly difficult situation, seek out the insight of a close friend to help you reframe the situation and see the potential for a positive encounter or outcome, or what you might learn from the situation.
Interpersonal Relationships – the skill of cultivating and sustaining satisfying and trusting relationships; communicating and relating well with others
- Keep up your relationships during the holiday season. Contact those people in your network that you enjoy being with, but that you haven’t seen in a while and make a coffee or lunch date, and/or attend a professional holiday party.
- Think about a few people that you work with and the positive things they bring to your life. Shop for a small, inexpensive holiday gift for each of these people that demonstrates your appreciation for them; go for the “I saw this and it was so you!”
Self-Actualization – setting high personal and professional goals for your own self-improvement; constant striving to better oneself
- Are you applying your own standards for growth and development to family or friends, expecting a different outcome from what is entrenched and has borne out in the past (such as difficult family dynamics)? Be conscious that we all grow and develop differently and look for ways that you can demonstrate your own growth to shift the dynamics of the situation.
- Talk to a trusted friend to get feedback on how you are doing or handling difficult situations; listen to and take their advice for moving forward and monitor the outcome.
Maybe these ideas will help you, as they are helping me, to infuse more enjoyment into the several weeks ahead!
Contact us to find your Happiness Score and let us help you develop your own plan to create individual and professional well-being through applying Emotional Intelligence: firstname.lastname@example.org / 215-680-2138.