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Holiday Guide

Finding Happiness, Love, Peace, and Connection

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CJ interviews best-selling author, Jonathan Robinson, on happiness tips from his book  “Finding Happiness Now”.  These are tips that take 5 min or less that you can try out during the busy holiday season.

9 Tips for Keeping Happy during the Holidays (Jonathan Robinson- YouTube Interview)

How can you keep merry during the holidays? Get some tips for feeling happy year around, but especially during the Holidays. The beauty of all the tips that Jonathan offers in his book, “Finding Happiness Now” is that they take 2 minutes or less to try.

  1.  Ask “What does your ideal Christmas look like?”: Get clear with what holidays mean to you. Is it about peace, connection, love, forgiveness, fun, or something else? Let’s say the holidays mean having peace and connection, like it is with Jonathan. If this is your vision, then your time may be split between being alone, talking quiet walks in nature, and connecting one-on-one with a few people. Don’t feel pressure to meet the cultural definitions of the holidays that involve buying, rushing around, and entertaining. Consider celebrating the Holidays YOUR way.
  2. Buy all your friends the same gift: You got a great gift idea? Why do we need to buy a different gift for each person? Keep it simple. Just give this same gift to everyone. No one will know the better and you’ve saved yourself a bunch of time.
  3. Share simple gifts: Consider sending a list of your favorite songs, movies, and books for the calendar year as an inexpensive gift for your friends and family. This is a gift that is about sharing your life and happiness with others.
  4. Write a letter of gratitude to someone: Write a letter or read a letter out loud to someone who has touched you, like a teacher, relative, or a friend. Have a face-to-face connection and tell that person or read your letter that explains just how much that person has meant to you and how they impacted your life.
  5. What would create love and connection with the people you care about? What are things you can do to create happiness, joy, and love NOW. To often we postpone our happiness till the day Christmas happens. What would the holidays be like if we focused on happiness in the now?
  6. Gratitude is key for happiness and spiritual connection: When you feel grateful you feel filled up from within. Gratitude is a door way to peace, love, and kindness. Check out Jonathan’s funny story about gratitude: Give your sincere thanks throughout your day and see how your energy is lighter and your outlook more merry.
  7. Schedule quality time in your calendar to connect: Schedule a weekly Skype meeting with friends to connect face-to-face connect time via Skype. Make sure to put the appointment in your calendar and make it a priority.
  8. Ask questions that will create intimacy: If you are having problems connecting with people during cocktail parties. Here are some questions you could ask that quickly create connection: What makes you happy? What are things that you really enjoy doing? What are your top three favorite movies? What are your greatest strengths/weaknesses?
  9. Reduce stress for up to 5 hours: Get out of your head and into your heart. Check out this very quick technique to try that will reduce cortisol levels for five hours.

3 Tips for creating your New Year’s resolutions

  1. Create a contract with yourself to achieve your goal: Set-up a goal with specifics on what you will deliver (e.g.- I will lose 5 lbs by 1/31/2015). Start creating a formal contract that you make with yourself. First start with goals by asking, “What you can I do to create a rich inner and outer life”? Commit yourself to the goal and create a consequence if you don’t hit your goal during the week. Try creating a consequence of ripping up $1 penalty for not hitting your deliverable.
  2. Match pleasure with pain. Look at how your behaviors cause pain in the past and in the future. For example, Jonathan describes his goal of eating fewer cookies. With this goal, write out the things that cause pain and pleasure. For example, your pain/pleasure list may look like this: PAIN: Eating too much cookies makes me fat, makes me feel like a hypocrite. PLEASURE: My body feels great, I don’t get sick, I feel like I conquered something. This helps you orient your goals to your body’s natural desire to move away from pain and toward pleasure.
  3. Proclaim your goals. Tell everybody your goals. This declaration helps in two ways. First,your friend and family will know your goals and will likely help keep you focused on achieving them. Plus, the fear of failure is an additional motivator.

Blog Post by Jonathan Robinson on Christmas

by Jonathan Robinson

‘Twas the week before Christmas and in my own house I was frantic and hurrying, and felt like a louse. That was five years ago. That day I vowed I would never again get sucked into the hyped up of “Christmas Spirit.” Instead of running around, fighting traffic, and losing my temper with store clerks, I decided I would do whatever it takes to really enjoy the holidays.  After all, it’s supposed to be a time of celebration and spiritual renewal.  Why not make it into one?  Of course, if you’re at all like I was, you’re going to have to change how you “do Christmas” if you ever hope to truly enjoy yourself.  I’ve found that four simple keys can help people turn their hurried Holidays into heavenly Holy days.

First, try to remember the original purpose of the Holiday Season. Whether you celebrate Christmas or Hanukah, they both represent a time to appreciate the blessings of life, God’s grace, and the end of darkness and the beginning of new light and hope.  Can you remember a Christmas memory from your childhood that was filled with joy, comfort, and love?  That’s really what we all want to experience during the Holidays.  Yet, sometimes it seems we’re being led down a fast flowing river that only leads to stress, insecurity, and even sadness.  By having a clear picture of what a truly happy Holiday Season would be like, you have a fighting chance to create what you want.  Without your own unique Christmas “fantasy” to hold onto, you’re likely to be swept into the currents of what everybody around you is doing.

Once you have an idea of what you’d like to experience during the Holidays, your next step is to figure out creative ways to avoid what you don’t like about Christmas.  For example, if you don’t enjoy running around buying a lot of presents, then don’t.  Most people ask themselves the wrong question when it comes to planning their Christmas.  Subconsciously, they think, “What should I do now that it’s the Holiday Season?”  If you “should” all over yourself, you’ll never enjoy Christmas.  Instead, it’s better to ask yourself, “What would I love to do to spread joy and good cheer this time of year?”  Listen for your own unique answer to that question.  By following your heart, you’ll feel the joy of Christmas, and enliven the Spirits of those you love.

A third way to keep the Spirit of the Holiday’s alive is to give a present to your self.  I don’t mean another sweater or necktie.  I mean something that will help you to experience the joy, peace, and sacredness of life.   Last year, my wife and I spent three days in Yosemite in the middle of December.  Leaving the craziness of city life for the grandeur of nature was the best present possible for both of us.  This year we plan to go to a desert resort.  As we sink into a jacuzzi bath while listening to Mozart, we’ll be sure to reminisce about the madness we left behind back home.  What would be some treat you could give to your self that would add meaning, joy, and relaxation to your winter season?  Schedule it in now, before you get too swept up in the Christmas rush.

Lastly, to have a truly Merry Christmas or Happy Hanukah, plan ahead for something that you’d truly like to do.   If you’re not spending the Holidays with your family, call some friends and see if they’re available.  Perhaps you can create a meal together, play a fun board game such as Pictionary or Monopoly, or simply have a meaningful conversation.  A nice thing to do around a Christmas dinner is to ask your friends and family questions such as:

1) What’s your favorite Christmas (or Hanukah) memory?

2) What was one of the most special moments you experienced this past year?

3) What are you truly grateful for in your life right now?

4) What was the worst Christmas gift you ever received?

5) What gives you a real sense of joy in life?

Asking questions like these to those you love can help bring intimacy and a sense of the sacred back into the Holiday Season.  Your fondest Christmas memories are probably not of presents you’ve been given, but of special times you’ve spent with people you cared about.  Having a really good conversation with a friend or family member can be one of the best “gifts” you ever receive.

Although advertisements try to convince us otherwise, the Holiday Season is not a time of ease and joy for most of us.  If you plan to have a good Christmas, you need to be deliberate about creating a sacred time with your self and/or the people you care about.  By following your own heart, and keeping true to the original purpose of the Season, you can make this your best Holidays ever.

About author and writer Jonathan Robinson

jonMA10095335-0001-200x300 (1)Jonathan Robinson is the author of “Find Happiness Now:  50 Shortcuts for Bringing More Love, Balance and Joy into Your Life.”  He is also the founder of the website:   On his website, you can receive 45 minutes of free audio about the best happiness tips, as well as many free practical articles.  



How to be Happy and Peaceful during Family gatherings?

By CJ Liu

During the holiday times, how can we turn towards compassion, love, peace, connection, appreciation, and gratitude? Isn’t this the real intention of the season?

It’s during the holidays that Maslow’s hierarchy of needs really resonates with me. We all want the same things during our family get-togethers – to feel safe, be accepted, and respected. Often times, family gatherings fail to deliver on any of these dimensions. Instead, our well intentioned loved ones push our buttons and bring back unhappy memories. And let’s be honest, you’ve probably equally responsible for rekindling your own share of unwanted memories in others, too.

During this Holiday season, consider that everyone is likely to experience the same range of emotions. Regardless of the minor tiffs that may have hurt our feelings, remember that love conquers all and is the reason that family remains intact.

Here are some tips to keep a smile on your face during the holidays:

  • You are perfect as you are. Your family may not understand who you are or who you’ve become. To them, you are still that zit-faced teen that could barely make it on time for anything important. Although you’ve changed, their perspective of you may not have. At this point you have a choice, you can either put on a performance, or just be yourself. Both are acceptable choices, but realize that a performance only lasts for so long.
  • It doesn’t feel safe when someone is picking on you. Are you consistently the butt of jokes when Uncle Jimmy or your cousins come around? During these unnerving, moments, you can choose to shirk it off, or stand up for yourself. If you can truly let it pass, forgive, and not have it bother you, then do that. But if year after year, you get ticked off, then say something. It can simply be pulling Uncle Jimmy aside and tell him that you really prefer that he not call you Feather Felix any more. If the thought of confronting doesn’t feel comfortable, then try rehearsing what you want to say first. Don’t just let it go unless you’re truly comfortable doing so. It’s much better to try and resolve the situation before it gets worse.
  • The way someone connects with you doesn’t work: Your brother Nathan may have always connected to you as his little bud. Now, you’ve grown five inches taller and have 15 pounds more muscle than he does, but he still treats you like a kid. Sometimes our siblings don’t realize that we’ve grown up and those silly little tactics aren’t cute anymore. The whole noogie thing used to be fun but now the experience makes your neck sore. Speak up! Tell your brother that you’d rather just have a beer and shoot some hoops outside and catch up. Again, consider rehearsing this a few times so you can know what you want to say and how you want to say it.
  • Accept the people around you: Each year we hope that our relatives will be different. What would shift if we could accept people as they are, even if they don’t meet our expectations? For example, Aunt Sandra always wants us to wear those stupid sweaters for a family picture. Although you may not understand the sweater idea and it’s not particularly your taste, just accept that it’s Aunt Sandra’s vision. It’s just one picture after all. Alternatively, act on your curiosity. If you really try to understand Aunt Sandra you may find out a good reason for this tradition and consequently, grow closer to your Aunt. You just never know why people do things you consider crazy. Instead of expecting others to change, try seeing what happens when you change your reaction to the people around you.
  • There is no perfect family: Meet the Rockwells where dear old grandmother brings in a 40 pound turkey to a bunch of smiling family members. Don’t be fooled – This is just a painting. There is no such thing as a “perfect” family. The idea sounds great but the reality is farfetched. Striving for something that is best depicted in a portrait only makes us suffer because it’s accepting a reality that doesn’t exist. Look at the real people sitting around the table and know that each of them is imperfect, just like you. The same holds true with trying to repeat the perfect Holiday gathering from last year. Let it go. Things change. Don’t let perfectionism take the joy out of the Holidays.
  • What would LOVE do? You’re on the verge of losing your temper because your niece is running around the kitchen when you got serious cooking going on. It’s at this point of mild irritation when you could ask yourself “what would love do?” See how your mood shifts when you put your energy and focus on love.
  • Each of us has our own set of expectations: One of the most important things to realize about family is that we all have an idea of how the Holidays should go. It’s like the United Nations; we’re all diverse in our traditions, our way of thinking and the way we do things. Perhaps, you don’t understand why your cousin Susan believes that cranberry sauce can NEVER come out of a can. Before you roll your eyes and dismiss what you feel is nonsense, take a moment and think of how her traditions differ from what you’re used to. The same thing holds true during the Holidays. Try to recognize and appreciate the cultural differences that each of your family members brings to the table.
  • Family Dynamics are here to stay: We all have a ritual – something we do the same way and in the same manner that it becomes custom. It’s comfortable, familiar, and perhaps worn out. Changing our ways is highly unlikely and if we even considered it, breaking the habit may take years to do. So, remember that the next time your Dad gives you grief about the way you dress. Getting angry won’t really change anything because let’s face it; he’s not going to change. So, the only thing you can change is the way you relate to the whole thing. Next year, have fun with it. Try wearing a clown suit and see what he says.
  • Set limit: As much as we love our family, everyone has their limit. It may be good to think about what your limit may be. Just like food, you all have an expiration date and it will stink if you aren’t taken out of the fridge. Decide beforehand how many nights you want to stay at your parent’s home, or how many hours you want to stay at the party.
  • Environment and events can make a difference. Sometimes people behave differently when they are put in certain environments. Who knows why? But if you want to change someone’s behavior consider switching the venue. Try having others over for brunch instead of dinner. Try eating on the sun deck instead of the usual dining room. The goal is to meet people half way and reach a middle ground.

To get a complete holiday guide for Holiday Stress Management check out: