SOP-Christmas-Message-2014This year, the social climate feels a little different to me.  I’m aware of the tension in relationships across groups – political, religious, racial, etc. There seems to be more sensitivity and more potential than usual for disagreements to erupt.  So, as you move through your procession of holiday gatherings, add an extra measure of respect.

Whether it’s a company-sponsored event, a colleague-hosted gathering, or a party with family and friends, consider steering clear of debates that get heated and avoid making casual remarks that could be experienced as insensitive. Admittedly, sometimes it’s hard to remove yourself from heated discussions – especially when relationship-driven history compels you to make your case.  But in the end, consciously choosing to walk away is better for your emotional well-being, and it may be just the example others need to lessen tension and stress all around.

Need an effective tool to help soothe your savage beast? Try the Loving-Kindness Meditation. Just take seven minutes before you head out to a spirited family or office gathering to visualize anyone who might stir your negative emotions and repeat to yourself, “May you be happy and healthy.”

This season is about joy, peace and fun.  So, absolutely, live it up!  Enjoy the festivities!  And take your best self wherever you go – the one who knows how to avoid career-limiting moves or explosive family dysfunction.  Make it a point to steer clear of thoughtless acts that exacerbate tension in important relationships.

This year, perhaps more than ever, say and do only that which adds an extra measure of respect to every interaction.  In the wise and timeless words of Mahatma Gandhi, this approach will help you “be the change you want to see in the world.”

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