Instead of getting mad…

When I left for India, it was October. It was still dark in the morning. The Cubs hadn’t won a World Series since 1908, and early voting had just begun. I’m back home in Atlanta now, and all of a sudden the holidays are upon us. Holidays can be tough- time with family, stress about money, cold weather, loneliness, the list can be endless… and of course now the election results.

My lovely Australian retreat-mates. We shared many meals and many political conversations!

My lovely Australian retreat-mates. We shared many meals and many political conversations!

 It doesn’t have to be painful. Here are a few tips on maintaining sanity and maximizing your enjoyment of the holidays this year.

 1.     Stop taking everything so personally. A funny look, an off-color comment, not getting our way- these are all chances to remember that it’s not about you. It never is, even when it really really feels like it. (check out my post ‘You Do You’ for more on this topic)

2.     Instead of getting mad, start a conversation. We live in a world when, if we disagree with someone, we comment on a facebook post. I’m right, you’re wrong. Frowny face or angry face. There’s always going to be someone who disagrees with us. Even if we’re essentially on the same ‘side’. People who didn’t vote for Trump but dislike Obama. People who voted for Trump but work tirelessly on non-profit projects to promote racial equality. People who are exhausted from the hate and anger and looking to find positivity, even when it doesn’t seem realistic. People who are angry and need to vent. Start a conversation. Ask them why. Ask about their family, their struggles, their lives. Be open to learning why they have the opinions and beliefs that they have.

3.     Find the commonalities. Someone who disagrees with us on a political, religious or other topic isn’t going to change their mind if we yell at them. Instead, let’s focus on what we agree on (extra points for trying to keep it positive). That may just be that the weather is beautiful, or that the sweet potatoes are delicious, or that we both need another drink.

Not quite cranberries, turkey and stuffing.

Not quite cranberries, turkey and stuffing.

I don’t want to oversimplify the immense challenges and the collective pain that our society is facing right now. And, clearly, if we need to speak up about something, speak up. But even paying attention to how we speak up is a good start.

I don’t know what it is like to be anyone other than me. But I do know that all opinions, even if they are coming from a place of hate, or ignorance, or love, or hope, or fear, are valid (even if we don’t like them), because there is a real person behind each of them. When we see each other as fellow human beings, even just for a few hours over a holiday meal, instead of labeling each other as wrong, evil or ignorant, life gets a lot more fun, and we may even make some real progress.