Finding Happiness in the Holiday Season

 Especially for the Single (A two-part Series) Christmas Noel

Ever wonder if the Grinch stole Christmas? You’re not alone — the Holidays can be a tough time for singles (and others).

There can be many causes for unhappiness around holidays from SAD (basically lack of sunlight) to man over board (trying to create the perfect Christmas).

One of the Grinch’s master elves is social isolation that can creep in at Christmas. For example, many single activities are often canceled from Christmas Day until New Year’s Eve and leave a vacuum for some. Others may be facing the “it’s the ‘X’s year” leaving …another vacuum. And the multitude of pre-Christmas family activities may remind you of your ‘singleness’. And it can be tough.

Although it’s been many years, I can still remember that first Thanksgiving and Christmas without my children, i.e., it was the X’s year. And even though I was with my parents and some of my siblings, opening Christmas packages, dinner, etc. only reminded me that my children weren’t there.

But what can we do about it… beyond sitting on the porch, waiting for the Grinch with shotgun in hand? (Do Not Do This!)

Research shows us that genetics plays an important role in happiness, almost 50% is genetic (1). Another 10% is coupled to significant events that are largely beyond our control, e.g. the loss of a close friend or family member. Which leaves about 40% that is under our control.

Dr. Lyubomirsky labeled the 40% that we can manage intentional activities (2) . The question is how do we manage that 40% to increase our happiness during the Holidays? And of the many, many studies on happiness, which are truly useful?

Twelve Days of Christmas: Suggestions

In honor of the 12 Days of Christmas, I’ve listed 12 suggestions for creating a truly remarkable Holiday. My favorites:

  1. Creating new traditions;
  2. Handling sensitive topics (read that politics) at dinner;
  3. Make it reasonable, not perfect;
  4. Remembering the things that bring you joy;
  5. Building new friendships and nurturing relationships;
  6. Be grateful – the joy & friends gratitude brings;
  7. Deck ‘thy’ face with that beautiful smile;
  8. Remember to decorate;
  9. Resolve to forgive past hurts;
  10. Give of yourself,  including random acts of kindness;
  11. Gifts to go;
  12. Everything Else!

Part Two — Some of my favorite Holiday Suggestions
Video presentation

James Spruell, Ph.D.

Dr. Spruell is an author, educator, consultant, and featured/invited speaker. His speaking engagements have taken him across the globe from Kansas City to Melbourne.

His vast consulting experience provides unique insight into the real life problems faced by so many. He is the author of the book, Creating an Extraordinary Life: Breaking Through the Abyss and numerous proceedings and articles.


(1) Bobbi Emel. (2014). 3 Scientifically Proven Ways to Boost Your Happiness. Retrieved February 26, 2014 from

(2) Sonja Lyubomirsky, S. & Porta, D. (in press). Boosting happiness, buttressing resilience: Results from cognitive and behavioral interventions. . In J.W. Reich, A.J. Zautra & J. Hall (Ed.), Handbook of adult resilience: Concepts, metthods, and applications. New York: Guilford Press.

© 2017 by James Spruell All rights reserved.