looking for beauty in all the right places
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oh, what fun!: the benefits of being festive


"Make every day a holiday 
and celebrate just living!" 

Amanda Bradley

Having spent a very festive weekend in the very festive New York City, taking in all of the lights and sounds and decorations of the holiday season, I began to see very clearly that festiveness really does make me feel happy. There’ve been times in my life when I’ve arrived at the month of December and thought, “Really? Do we really need all of this hoopla?” But even on those years I’ve always come around and realized that being festive isn’t worth resisting because it really does warm my heart and allow my mind to focus on some pretty awesome topics -- happiness, love, and peace.

While shopping at the beautifully decorated Bloomingdale’s, I saw many mentions of those three topics. Neon lights and writing on shopping bags reminded me that some of the most important things about the holiday season could be summed up in three words: happy, love, peace. What it really comes down to, when we think about all of the work that goes into preparing for the holidays, are those three words. We all want to feel happy, to feel loved, to feel at peace -- and what better time to do it than right now, when all of those feelings seem to be streaming through the radios and being celebrated in everything from commercials to window displays? It might be tempting at times when you’re feeling a bit like Scrooge to resist the festiveness of the holidays, but, in my experience, you’ll be a whole lot happier if you just take a deep breath and plunge into the glitter and lights and colorful mess that is the Christmas season.

Obviously over the past few days traveling around the Big Apple and taking in all of the sights and sounds of Christmas, I’ve given some thought to how being festive really can equate to being happy. As you know, I believe happiness is a choice and happiness is something that comes from within you, but I also believe that sometimes there are things outside of us that can bring us some pretty awesome doses of happiness. For me, being festive is one of those things. (Please note: being festive doesn’t have to relate only to Christmas; it can be something you do at any time or for any occasion, though I have to say that it’s pretty hard for me not to think about it in terms of Christmas at this time of year!) The more I think about it, the more I realize that being festive as many benefits. Here are just a few that I came across this weekend…


5 Benefits of Being Festive

1.     Embracing happiness.  Generally being festive requires a happy, positive attitude and when you embrace being festive, you also embrace being happy. Even if you're feeling weighed down by your life's pressures or you're overwhelmed by stress, taking some time to join in on festivities can really lift your mood up. I don't have any real evidence to back up the idea that being festive makes you happier other than the fact that I find that being festive makes me happier, but give it a try and see if it works for you. 

2.     Participating in a group. I've read somewhere that participating in a group can have a lot of happiness benefits and I think that's probably true. When I'm feeling down and I spend time with friends, I usually feel a lot better. Celebrating holidays and special events with others can help you to surround yourself with the festiveness of others. Being around others that are having fun and surrounding yourself with those who have positive attitudes can really lift up your spirits. 

3.     Giving to others. Often partaking in festive activities means giving to others -- and not always in the form of presents. Giving your time and energy to celebrating is a gift in and of itself and it can mean a lot to those around you. When you give to others, you feel good. When you take part in festive activities, you give of yourself and you bring joy to others and to yourself. Remember, you don't have to give gifts to be festive. Giving of yourself can be an even better gift to those around you -- especially giving of your festive, positive self! 

4.     Looking for the good. When I find myself in a festive mood or situation, I always find myself looking for the good. It's hard for me to be negative when all around me people are celebrating and everything is decorated for fun. Therefore, when I find myself being festive, I find myself celebrating not only the event but also the good things in my life. When I'm celebrating a holiday or a birthday, I have a chance to really see the good shining through in my life and that brings me a great deal of happiness. 

5.     Experiencing the now. Celebrations and festivities have a way of keeping us in the moment, of helping us embrace the now. Now I know festive situations aren't always about the present moment since many celebrations often center around traditions, but I really think being festive can help us to experience the now more fully. When you're preparing for the event or holiday, you can be focused on your preparations and when you finally arrive at the big day you'll be able to fully embrace the now. 



As you can see, there are some great benefits to being festive. I know sometimes it might be hard – maybe you’re not in the mood, maybe you’re going through a really hard time in your life – but I really think it’s worth it to take part in celebrations and to celebrate any occasion that calls for festivity. You lose a lot by holding back from the festive celebrations of a holiday or special occasion. If you want my advice, I'd suggest partaking in the holiday season (or an upcoming birthday... or just any old day you want to make festive). You'll miss out if you don't and you can gain a lot by joining in on the celebration! 


How do reap the rewards of being festive in your own life? 
What are your favorite festive activities? 


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Yeah, holidays can be a very good mood booster. Provided you focus on the positive things and experiences about them, like you seem to do: the decorations, the city, the good, the now. I find it amusing that a lot of people though manage to make Christmas a small hell, by making it about imperative expectations and obligations.


I love being festive : ) I love to decorate and I love having Christmas parties (and parties for all other reasons too! lol). It just makes me happy. Winter is usually the season when depression seems to come back to bite me....but getting into the Christmas spirit really helps to keep me from falling into one of those ruts. :)

I have to admit that one of the things I really love about the Italian side of my family is that almost every occassion is a festive occassion! Birthdays, Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter... they're all about family getting together, talking and laughing and sharing good food (and good wine!). The younger kids spend a lot of time outside playing. It's fun and also a lot of work but there are always many hands to help. Whether it's with family or even friends, I love the connection I feel.

Eduard - You've made a great point. Holidays are only positive if we choose to focus on the positive things about them. Often we see people get way too caught up in materialism or family drama, and those are definitely not the positive elements of a holiday!

Michelle - Me too! (If you couldn't tell!) I really think that the holiday spirit helps to combat the winter blues. If only the holiday season lasted through February...

Wendy - It's great to have a spirited and festive family. My mom is very into celebrating holidays, which is one of the reasons they've become so important to me too. There's definitely something wonderful about connecting with others during the holidays!

I can't agree more! I am choosing to bring lot's of light and happiness into this season. And it is a choice. You can fight it, or you can go along. And I am going all out...lol. But Christmas is not about presents for me. This season is about light. Festive lights on the tree, the guiding light from the universe, and letting go of darkness. I want to fill my soul with the magic of the season.

Caroline - It's definitely a choice and it's a choice worth making. It's not always easy to feel festive, but it's worth putting in a little extra effort to get into the spirit of things. I love that you're making this season about light. Awesome!

The best part of Christmas for me is being with my family. While I'll admit, I do still get a little bit excited seeing all the presents under the tree, my most favourite part is laughing, having fun and hanging out with the fam.

I love the holidays because every busts out the deliciousness! I am convinced that there is absolutely NOTHING more festive than pounds and pounds of chocolate.

AND it is festive to both give AND receive of the holiday cheer! I'm just saying.

Sami - I agree that laughter and family are two of the best things about being festive during the holiday season! Love them!

Hayden - Oh, I couldn't agree more. Chocolate = pure festiveness! You're so right about giving and receiving. That's one of the best things about the holidays -- it usually goes both ways!

Oh, you are so lucky. I've always wanted to go to NY. I just love the hustle and bustle and the activity that goes on. I love all things festive. You are right that it makes for happiness.

I reap the rewards of being festive through many different ways. Could range from hanging out with friends and just having a good time. Just doing little odds and ends for the family. Making brownies and whatnot. Makes me feel good knowing they are feeling good and enjoying what i've done.

> there are things outside of us that can bring us some pretty awesome doses of happiness
I agree, and Christmas and blankets of snow, are high on my list. Sometimes it's just the shiny lights.

I think the thing to remember is that nobody can be festive or happy for you, and if you don't make it happen, you're the one that misses out.

Lynn - I am pretty lucky! I get to go to NYC pretty often (usually for business). It's a fun place to go, but I can't imagine living there. It's a little TOO hustle bustle for me. This was the first time I'd been in NYC at Christmastime and it was VERY festive. You should try to visit then if you can!

Josten - That's wonderful! You sound like you really are reaping the rewards of being festive. Brownie baking sounds delicious! Yum!

J.D. - I'm totally with you when it comes to loving Christmas, blankets of snow, and shiny lights. They are all beautiful things that warm my heart when I see them. You've brought up a GREAT point about how we have to make festive happen for ourselves. No one else will ever do it for you!

Hi Dani,

My favourite thing about Christmas is reconnecting with family and friends that I don't get to spend nearly enough time with. In Ireland we can spend anything from three days to over a week celebrating Christmas, and so it offers the opportunity to travel and spend time catching up not only with family, but having a night out with old friends too. And even during tough times, those occasions never fail to give a boost :-)

Hilda - That's a great point. Usually the holidays allow us to spend time with those we might not otherwise have a chance to see. Seeing old friends and family definitely is a great way to get a happiness boost!

The festivity is wonderful and contagious! We also have to recognize that this is rough time for many people, because feelings of futility and loneliness come up during the holidays for many people.

Great artilce, thanks!

Kaushik - I agree about it being contagious. That's a great point! When we are festive, we can get others in the mood for it. :) And I agree with your point about how this can be a really rough time of year for some people so we really do need to be sensitive to that.

Well I'm certainly looking forward to trimming the tree! I'm not big into Christmas in a christian sense, but it's still a yearly tradition from my childhood that helps me celebrate the year, family and community. I love how everyone is kind of in the same festive spirit all at the same time.

Michelle - I'm the same way you are -- it's not about the religious aspects for me. It's about the traditions and the excitement of being festive with friends and family. There's definitely a wonderful spirit of connection when everyone's into the same thing at the same time!

I LOVE the colors, smells and sounds of this season. I feel like a little girl in a toy store. So much to see and do!

When I try to keep a calm center, and let everything else swirl around me, I am happy.

Enjoy this Christmas season, Dani.

Jewel - I know what you mean -- the colors and smells and sounds are so amazing around this time of year. I hope you have a very festive Christmas! :)

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