If the holidays leave you more stressed than centered, some experts say daily meditation sessions can help. The only question: Who has time to meditate when it takes 20 minutes just to find parking at the mall?
Perhaps a more practical approach is Immediate Gratification Meditation. Try these tongue-in-cheek chants to maintain your serenity — or at least your sanity — all season long.
Holiday Mantra 1:
“I see the best in all houseguests.”
When hosting overnight guests, you’ll want to make them feel at home. And when they feel too much at home, you’ll want to mutter this mantra under your breath. Chant it in the bathroom and relax as you remove wet houseguest towels from the floor, plunge a toilet clogged with foreign houseguest matter, and extract a clump of houseguest hair from the shower drain. Chant it in the kitchen while custom-cooking meals that conform to their many dietary restrictions, and washing an endless stream of dishes while they attend to urgent Facebook updates. Finally, chant this mantra in the living room, and welcome the feeling of calm that comes over you as you figure out what they did to the remote control to make it stop working.
Holiday Mantra 2
“I celebrate the unique gifts of others.”
Chant this mantra instead of chanting, “I can tell that you put zero thought into this present.” Neutralize negativity as you unwrap an Amazon gift card from your spouse. Express gratitude for that re-gifted bottle of prosecco selected especially for you — by the person you gave it to last year, after someone gave it to you the year before. Float above mobs at the mall like a songbird, chirping this mantra as you try to return a sweater that is three sizes too small and did not come with a gift receipt. Remember, this mantra is easily recited in workplace settings as well. Try it during Secret Santa ceremonies where everyone is only allowed to spend 10 bucks. Before you know it, you’ll find your Zen when Muriel in Accounting gives you another bar of soap/pair of wacky novelty socks/box of Tic Tacs from the checkout counter at CVS.
Holiday Mantra 3
“I will be my best self once we’re done celebrating.”
This all-purpose mantra is best chanted when holiday traditions take their toll on your tranquility. Begin by whispering it when selecting and/or decorating a Christmas tree with the pathological perfectionist of your choice. Later, allow yourself to chant it in a louder, more expletive-strewn manner when the tree topples to the floor, shattering each delicate ornament and strangling you with a string of twinkling lights. This versatile mantra may also be chanted while preparing traditional holiday treats such as the Hanukkah latke, which translates from ancient Hebrew to: “labor-intensive potato pancake that always comes out soggier than the frozen ones from Trader Joe’s.” And when it’s finally time to gather together for your holiday feast, recite this mantra with a powerful aperitif. You will attain instant inner peace when your seating plan is ignored, and you’ll marvel at the colorful conversation between Uncle Mo in the red MAGA cap and cousin Cathy the climate change researcher.
Holiday Mantra 4
“Everything will be different next year.”
Chant this year, next year, and all subsequent years.
Dan Zevin, a Thurber Prize-winning humorist, is the author most recently of “Very Modern Mantras: Daily Affirmations for Daily Aggravations’’ (Running Press Adult). You can follow his teachings on Instagram @modernmantras; Twitter @modern_mantras; and his website, danzevin.com.