Words Make or Break the Holiday Season


>>15363750004_7ddc3b8359_h BY ASHLEY MCINTYRE

The holiday season means a lot of things to different things to different people. Whether it’s an annual cross-country trip to grandma’s house, a huge dinner party at home or some solitary reflection time, this is a special time of year. But this year I’m feeling more humbug than happy.

I work in retail, and this is a rough time to be in the business. After a lackluster Black Friday, >>consumer spending isn’t expected to increase much through the end of the year. Retail sales are up slightly across the board, but while online shopping is seeing a double digit increase, our commissions at brick-and-mortar stores are suffering.

For the first time in my life, I won’t be able to travel home to spend Christmas with my family; I have to work on Christmas Eve and Boxing Day. Sprinkle in the fact that my income is much lower than I’m used to, and I’ll admit: this holiday season is bumming me out a little. I was walking around with a huge, metaphorical rain cloud over my head until I went to the grocery store last week.

My favorite cashier, Clarence, has the uncanny ability to cheer me up. He always has something awesome to say. When I first met Clarence, he would always tell me to “Have a great day!” when he handed me my groceries, because “good day” just wasn’t good enough. “You speak it, and you become it,” he says. “You need to aspire to be ‘great,’ not just ‘good.’ And I know you’ve got it in you to be great!”

Not only has Clarence bagged a lot of my groceries over the last few months, he’s taught me a lot about affirmations and the power of positive suggestive language. And after I saw my friend at the grocery store, I realized something pretty important. Holiday greetings aren’t just salutations, they’re positive affirmations, too.

>>Affirmations are essentially positive self-talk , describing a desired situation in the present tense as if it were true. They take self-limiting statements and flip them upside down. If you are a teacher in a classroom, and a student is insisting she’s “bad at math,”  you could encourage her to say, “I’m working on getting better at fractions” instead. Or, if you are frustrated with your love life and looking for a change, instead of saying, “I’m never going to find anyone and will probably die alone,” you could say, “I’m open to finding someone to spend my life with.”

So in an effort to share a bit of positivity (and keep myself cheerful through the rest of the holidays), I’ve decided to take a cue from Clarence and give out as many positive affirmations as I can before the holidays are over.This outpouring of nice-ness will make my holiday season more fun, but maybe it will give someone, who is going through a rougher time than I am, a bit of a lift during this hectic time of year.

I’ve never regretted taking the time to be kind, and I’ve never been offended at the wide variety of season’s greetings that well-wishers like to use. If someone wants to wish me a happy Hanukkah, even though I don’t celebrate it, I’m more than happy to accept his or her cheerful greeting. “Happy Holidays”? Sure! “Merry Christmas”? Thank you! “Happy New Year?” Yes! And to you, too!  

I’ve been doing this little social experiment for a few days, and I’m pleased to report that I’m feeling better. I’m not going to kid myself into thinking that my problems have been magically solved by saying the words “happy” or “merry” a hundred times a day. But it can’t hurt to think it.

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