HEALTH & WELLNESS Five Ways to Maximize Happiness During the Holidays By Sharee Silerio T he holidays are a time for gift-giving, parties with family and friends, cooler weather (this could be your favorite or least favorite thing about this time of the year), decorating homes with lights or wintry items, and traditional feasts that comfort our souls. In the hustle and bustle of buying gifts, traveling and creating unforgettable memories, it’s easy to lose sight of what happiness looks and feels like. It’s important to stay present, choose joy and maintain your peace. Here are a few ways to increase your happiness this holiday season: • Let go of the need to be perfect. Few things go exactly as we plan them. Whether your flight is delayed, a family member gets sick and can’t attend dinner, or you burn the Thanksgiving turkey, nothing in life is perfect. What matters is how we respond to circumstances we can’t control. Grace, peace and gratefulness changes everything. • Focus on what really matters. Gifts, nor the cost of gifts, make the holidays what they are supposed to be. The experiences, connections and relationships we have, build and nurture are what makes this festive season what it is. The beauty of the holidays is in the love that permeates the air. Commit your attention to what lasts. • Be intentional with your time. Don’t be afraid to say no. Don’t do anything you don’t want to do to make someone else happy. Don’t go to a party when you need time to yourself. Don’t attend a dinner 90 GAZELLE STL with people you don’t really want to be with, just to seem nice. You can’t get any day, hour or minute back. Once it’s gone - it’s gone. Choose what your heart desires. • Give. Pay more attention to the ways you can help others versus what others can do for you. Don’t go into debt in order to give. Offer what you are willing and able to sacrifice – whether it’s your time, money, knowledge or skills. • Stay in the moment. Though it’s nice to share how much you’re enjoying your family and loved ones with your Facebook friends or Instagram followers, take a break from the digital world. Instead of taking pictures and posting them on social media, absorb each second by putting the phone down and engaging with the people in your presence. Celebrate this time of your life and remind yourself of the ways you can choose happiness during the most wonderful time of the year. Silerio is a St. Louis-based freelance writer, blogger, and film and TV writer- producer. Her work has appeared in The Root, Curly Nikki and The St. Louis American. Read her writings on faith and self-love at