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Why Holidays Don't Have To Be 'Happy'
Date:11/20/2009

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C., Nov. 20 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Samuel Gladding is no Scrooge, but he is on a mission to redefine what it means to be "happy" during the holidays. As a licensed professional counselor with a specialty in family counseling and chair of the Department of Counseling at Wake Forest University, Gladding says research shows that it is the pressure to be happy that often leads to sadness and even depression during the holidays.

That's why he's challenging the traditional view of happy holidays by pointing out that the higher our expectations, the less likely we are to actually be happy. He shares five tips for more realistic holiday expectations, and a redefinition of what it means to have a happy holiday season.

* Don't idealize the holidays We see the Norman Rockwell painting of all the people gathered round the table, and the turkeys just perfect and everyone's smiling. But in real life, that doesn't happen nearly as often as imperfection does. It's paradoxical that the more you try to live up to that kind of expectation, the more frustrated, disappointed and unhappy you are likely to be with yourself and others. Remember, people can't read your mind and know what you want. So don't put too much pressure on yourself to make everything just right.

* Accept people for who they are. Just as we idealize the holidays, we also have an ideal of how we think people should behave, from their table manners to the way they dress. But unless they're doing something totally unacceptable, it's better to enjoy people for who they are instead of who you want them to be.

* Tell stories: Talking about good times and good memories with others is inspiring and gives us a great feeling, whether the people we talk about are with us anymore or not. Certain memories may make us more melancholy, but more thankful as well.

* Take unilateral action: It's always hard to stop family feuds once they have sta
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SOURCE Wake Forest University
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