“You cannot have a positive life and a negative mind.”
World War I was one of the most brutal wars ever fought. Beginning on July 28, 1914 and ending on November 11, 1918, the war claimed more than 9 million lives and wounded another 21 million. Soldiers for the most part fought the war in trenches and the area in between both sides was known as no-man’s land.
During the weeks leading up to Christmas in 1914, German and British troops began shouting Christmas greetings at one another. By the time Christmas Eve came, solders on both sides began singing Christmas carols and soon staged an unofficial truce as many met face to face. Some German and British soldiers exchanged gifts while others played football. Roughly 100,000 soldiers were involved in the truce along the Western Front. In some areas, the truce lasted until Christmas Day but in others it reportedly lasted until New Year’s Day.
The following year, commanders on both sides forbade collaboration as many continued to fight a war they did not want to fight. Over the years, this legendary ceasefire has become known as the Christmas Truce. Historians have noted that it was the close proximity of the trenches that made the truce possible as both sought peace during the holiday season.
Many suffered from shell shock and post-traumatic stress due to all the horrific traumas brought on by the war. Today, 102 years later, we are luckily not in the midst of a world war. But for many the holidays are a time of heightened stress and anxiety. For some the holidays are a reminder of all we have to be grateful for but for others it is a reminder of what is missing in their lives. Still others fall somewhere in between.
Regardless of where you may fall or how you feel about the holiday season, I’d like to propose a Christmas truce. In 1914, soldiers decided to let go of grudges and all the pain of a senseless war and instead focus on brotherhood and the spirit of Christmas.
Let’s face it we’ve all been hurt. We’ve all been wronged in one way or another by the people who mean the most to us. But this Christmas, give yourself the gift of forgiveness and let go of all the grudges. Call a Christmas truce. This is not always easy, I know. But what most people don’t realize is that forgiveness helps the forgiver more than the wrongdoer. It doesn’t mean that you are saying what they did is OK. It doesn’t mean that you are condoning the act. It means that you will no longer give the wrongdoer control. Rather than focus on the negative and be miserable, you choose to instead let go and focus on the positives in your life. Here are some tips on how to do just that:
- BE HONEST. You can’t let go of ill feelings if you are in denial. Be honest and recognize what you are feeling.
- MAKE A “POSITIVE THOUGHTS” LIST. Write down some of the things you have to grateful for in your life. No matter what is going and no matter how bad things may seem, you can always find something to be grateful for.
- SURROUND YOURSELF WITH PEOPLE WHO MAKE YOU HAPPY. Spend time with the family and friends who bring out the best in you. If you have no choice (such as family gatherings) and have to be in the company of negative people or those that I call “soul suckers,” try to limit the time you spend with them.
- ACCEPT THAT WHICH YOU CANNOT CHANGE. Accept what is and let go of what isn’t. In other words, don’t dwell on the negatives and the things that can never be.
- LOVE YOURSELF. You can never find peace and happiness until you love and accept yourself. In my book, Make Up Your Mind to Be Happy, best-selling author and happiness expert, Debbie Gisonni, explains, “If you accept and love yourself, you’ll naturally be at peace inside. Peace enables you to respect others beliefs, even when they’re different than your own, or walk away from arguments. Next time you’re around that one relative that always pushes your buttons, don’t argue with them, don’t disagree…just let them be.
Just yesterday I went to the mall and came across a sign that read “Be happy. It makes the haters miserable.” It brought a smile to my face as I thought about the unfortunate truth to those words. Honestly, though, the only person who can make you happy is you. Likewise, the only person who can make you unhappy is you.
It makes no difference what is going on around you and all the difference what is going on inside you. What you focus on—both good and bad—expands. So this holiday season, call a truce. Focus on the positives, let go of the negatives and be merry.
Wishing you all a joyous holiday season!