Mindfulness Activities

The Grouchy Meditator: How to be Happy When you Feel Like a Grinch

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It’s the end of the year–the time of darkness, reflection, and holiday.

And on most years at this time, I’m very happy.

I’m grateful for my loved ones. My health. A warm home.

I’m giddy about seeing twinkling lights in front of the homes in my neighborhood.

But this year– this year I just don’t feel it.

I’m crabby and irritable. gloomy and impatient.

Gratefulness? I can’t find an ounce of it. I’m just trying to be someone who others would want to be around.

I’m in a grinch-y mood and it seems easier to list what I’m not happy about than what I enjoy.

As a dedicated meditator and spiritual seeker, this presents a challenge. How can I be both present with what is happening, and invite the joy, love, and gratitude that I know is just behind my mood?

Be Aware of your Dissatisfaction

The first step to cope with holiday moodiness is to be aware of it.

Don’t fight it. Don’t try to change it.

Just be aware.

So when I want to snap at someone, I just notice it. I don’t try to change my feelings. I do my best not to get wrapped up in my feelings. And on a good day, as best as I can, I don’t act on my feelings.

Instead, I give myself the assignment of just noticing my feelings.

You can do the same thing.

Every time your mind judges someone else’s experience, just notice.

Every time you want to run, hide or fight, just notice.

Every time you start lists of what you don’t like about the world, just notice.

Watching your emotions and reactions has many benefits but sadly, stopping your moods from surfacing is not one of them. All of your emotions will still be there. In fact, they may even seem stronger now that you are giving them a little focus.

But even if you feel the same, watching your feelings may help you notice patterns. You’ll start to recognize your triggers. You’ll see how your moods ebb and flow, and begin to understand your mind better.

This understanding can help you unhook. You stop getting caught up. Your emotions become a little less potent. They’re still there–they’re just not as charged.

And when you are less wrapped up with the drama in your head, you can stop fighting what you’re feeling. You can accept that you’re human.

In other words, if you’re a grinch, you’re a grinch. No big deal. No reason to fret.

Do Something Kind

When you’re feeling grumpy, it can be very hard to do kind things.

But do them anyway.

Go through the motions. Pretend you feel generous and happy. Make big gestures or small ones–either way just do something kind.

Doing kind things when you don’t feel like it reminds you that you are not the center of all things.

Plus, it makes the people around you happy.

Do a Loving-Kindness Meditation

The final antidote for a grinch-y holiday mood is to use the meditation tools you have in your toolkit. And one of the best ones is to do a loving-kindness meditation.

Find a comfortable spot to sit. Ground yourself.

Think of yourself and with each breath say, “May I be happy and full of joy.”

You don’t have to believe your words–just send yourself the wish.

“May I be happy and full of joy.”

In the beginning, this may feel awkward or mechanical. If it does, you have a few choices.

  • You can continue the practice, letting it be awkward and watching what happens next.
  • You can modify the phrase so it feels easier for you to wish. For example, you could say, “May I be as happy and full of joy as I can right now.”
  • You can imagine yourself as a child and send your child-like self the good wishes.

Regardless of whether the meditation is easy or hard, keep sitting and wishing yourself happiness.

Loving-kindness meditation can have a startling effect. It can melt away sourness and reveal your a tender sweetness underneath.

Even if all your complaints remain, you feel a little softer about them. You have a little more spaciousness around them.

Grouchiness is a very uncomfortable mood. No one enjoys being negative and impatient.

But fighting the mood, going to battle with it, rarely makes it better.

Instead, make your grouchiness your practice. Work with your feelings.

You might find your heart softer and kinder, despite your bad mood.

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