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Holidays

The 7 Things to Do to Have More Peaceful Holiday Gatherings

As the holidays approach we all think about the conversations we are going to have.  Those we look forward to having and those thrust upon us.  How do we talk about the year in review?  Hot button political questions?  Hurricanes? Fires?

The Art of Connectionby Michael Gelb is a guide to creating, and maintaining, genuine rapport with others. Connection is the research validated secret of happiness, health and longevity, and it’s also especially relevant on a personal basis as we approach the Holiday season.  Gelb leads seminars for corporate teams to help them communicate more effectively, but, as he emphasizes, these same skills may be even more important in dealing with family and friends.

Gelb outlines seven skills distilled from decades of practical experience.

  1. Embrace Humility — Why humility is the source of genuine strength and confidence, and how to cultivate it. (Be open to seeing your chatty Aunt Edith in a new light.  Ask her some questions.  What’s her earliest Thanksgiving memory?  What is she most grateful for? How did she develop her recipe for stuffing?)
  2. Be a Glowworm — How emotions are contagious and how to spread the energy to bring out the best in yourself and others.  (Thanks to mirror neurons others will reflect and magnify the attitudes you manifest.  If you choose an uplifting, grateful attitude and look for the best in everyone, even your estranged ex, you may be surprised to discover that the atmosphere becomes more positive.)
  3.  Achieve the Three Liberations — Profound ways to shift out of patterns that interfere with your ability to connect with yourself and others. (Most important here is to let go of taking anything personally, refrain from the temptation to complain or commiserate and suspend your automatic judgments of everyone and everything.  This liberates way more energy to enjoy the turkey, the football game and all your relatives.)
  4. Transcend Fixations — Move beyond the habits that limit your freedom to connect and respond intelligently and effectively, to different types of people. (When we realize that most of people’s behaviors are hard-wired expressions of their personality typology it’s much easier to be compassionate and not take things personally.)
  5. Balance Energy Exchange — Methods to monitor the balance of energy in relationships and adjust when necessary. (As Wharton Professor Adam Grant advises focus on being “otherish”…little acts of kindness make a big positive difference)
  6. Be a RARE Listener — How to improve your real listening skills right now.  (The Holidays are a wonderful time to practice ‘empathic listening.’
  7. Turn Friction into Momentum — What you need to transform your approach to conflict (Unlike the football game you may be watching, a conflict isn’t a contest.  It’s an opportunity to find creative solutions to meet your needs and the needs of others. Think creatively about new ways to relate to the people who get on your nerves.)

These skills are all timeless, but they are also especially timely.  Each chapter includes illustrative stories, relevant scientific research, and practical exercises to help readers apply the skills in their life today.

Michael J. Gelb has pioneered the fields of creative thinking, accelerated learning, and innovative leadership. He leads seminars for organizations such as DuPont, Merck, Microsoft, Nike, and YPO.  He also teaches at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business and the London Business School. He is also the author of How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci and several other bestsellers. His website is www.MichaelGelb.com.

 

6 Holidays survival tips for couples struggling with infertility

The holidays can be a difficult time for anyone. Our culture promotes an ideal of the perfect holiday season with unrealistic expectations, and when that experience inevitably falls short, it can lead to disappointment. For those coping with infertility, the joy of the holidays can seem even harder to attain.   
The holidays are focused on family, with children at the epicenter. Those who long for the child that has not yet come can feel isolated, sad, and discouraged.
“The holidays tend to remind those dealing with infertility that family building has not gone the way they imagined,” says Dr. Ariadna Cymet Lanski, a clinical psychologist at Fertility Centers of Illinois. “Seeing your siblings and cousins with their children can remind you of what you don’t have, and that’s not easy.”
Dr. Marie Davidson, who is also a clinical psychologist at Fertility Centers of Illinois, agrees. “For couples experiencing infertility, there can be deep sense of alienation from the spirit of celebration. As a result, you may not want to participate in the usual family rituals, and you may search for ways to protect yourself from the distresses of social comparison.”
Yet the holidays and family gatherings can still be meaningful and enjoyable. Drs. Davidson and Cymet Lanski offer advice and techniques on how to navigate the emotions that surround the holidays.  
1. Acknowledge Your Feelings Don’t judge your own feelings; they are important and real and you have them for valid reasons.  It is normal to feel envious and even angry that you are “left out”. Holding everything inside doesn’t help. It actually takes more mental energy to hold your feelings back than to express them. Allow yourself time to feel the sadness, anger, and frustration. 
2. Reach Out  If you feel lonely or isolated, seek out support from your partner or a close friend. Talk about your feelings together. Keep in mind that men and women cope with stress in different ways. Women are more likely to express their sadness, while men tend to hold things inside. Neither way is wrong, just different. Whether it’s your partner, a friend, professional counseling, groups, or online forums, finding somewhere to talk with people who understand can help you feel less alone.
3. Choose the Gatherings You Attend  Discuss holiday gatherings with your partner, and decide how much celebration to participate in. If going to that family dinner will send you over the edge, don’t go. Going to every minute of family gatherings isn’t necessary – it is important to put your needs first. Your family will move on in time.
4. Plan Ahead  Plan, plan, and plan ahead.  Anticipation is half the battle. People have a way of asking inappropriate questions at inappropriate times. Be ready for the nosy questions and the possible “We’re pregnant” announcements.  Come up with an answer in advance that feels comfortable to you.


5. Make Special Plans of Your Own  Plan for memorable events of your own. Host an adults-only holiday party, or plan a romantic evening out with your partner. For some, it might even mean skipping a family gathering and planning a holiday getaway of your own. For example, one couple we know spent Christmas at a quiet cabin with another couple and enjoyed hiking, playing board games and relaxing. While their families didn’t quite understand, both couples said it was a rejuvenating and memorable holiday. 


6. Remember This is Not Forever  Remind yourself that this holiday season or the way you choose to celebrate this year is not how it will be for the rest of your life. Your fertility struggles will resolve at some point and things will change.

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Use this Holiday season to whip your kids’ behavior into shape!

‘Tis the season for whipping your children into shape!
The holiday and Christmas winter season has extreme value to parents who want to change some of their children’s bad habits and behaviors.
How?
In my home, my husband and I create a bulletin board with daily tasks that our three kids (ages 12, 9 and 6) need to do in the morning and evening like brush their teeth, do homework, pack their book bags  in advance, remove all empty snack papers and juice boxes and backpbacks from the SUV after school, pick up after themselves, generally. 
The kids are allowed up to 20 chances to mess up, with every 5 strikes (Xs) netting them one less Christmas gift. 
We put this discipline plan into play last year and it totally worked on getting the kids to FINALLY do, regularly all the various things we’ve asked them to do each day to keep our day running smoothly and to keep the car and home junk-free.
I highly recommend it!

All you need is a chalkboard, a hand written chart or a whiteboard erected in the kitchen or family area where all can see and track their points. 

This technique is even great for older kids who have since stopped believing in Santa Claus. 
The key is to keep to the promise to withhold the gifts.

We do give children the opportunity to re-earn the points back by doing some extra chores or some other activity. And with that, you can get some housework done around the house too.

But in a nutshell, it’s a GREAT opportunity for parents that shouldn’t be passed up! ha! 
Try it in your home this holiday season!

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