Your Brain on Holidays

Candle_flame_(1)At holiday time, it’s interesting to consider the different ways that people choose to relax. For some, it’s all about the event: the rituals, the experiences, the parties, the activities that bring refreshment. For others, it’s the moments of quiet: the long and grateful exhale, the guilt-free indulgence in a snooze or daydream or simple contemplation that brings the holiday’s best rejuvenation.

I have a theory that those who are naturally spontaneous love experience, while those who are more naturally organized love it when experience steps back, giving way at last to stillness.

The winter holiday sets up this contrast sharply. It’s a time of noisy socializing as well as silent nights. ┬áRed-suited Santas and single candles in the window. Over-the-top celebrations and New Year’s Resolutions. Feel a little jerked around? No wonder!

We have to pick and choose the parts of holidays that we want to adopt personally. Habit, family tradition, or my superego’s expectations notwithstanding, I’d rather have a comfortable personal connection to the celebration than just blindly go along with some popular meme.

For me, I have been realizing that my brain tends to calculate all the time. A holiday, to  people like me, is largely focused on stopping all the calculations.

Many of you may relate to this. Others will be more the imaginative sort, with brains busily creating, unhinged from space and time. For you, the pageantry and parties are delightful.

But for those of us who relax by tuning out, the mid-winter holidays can be especially delicious. The silent snow, a candle flame, a child’s smile. The matchless pleasure of sleeping through a long winter’s night. The freedom from calculation, regulation, machinations of any kind. Permission to let it all go.

Whether you’re the imaginative or the calculating type, I know the holiday holds pleasures uniquely for you, and I wish you full enjoyment of them!