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Your Life: Choose to spend energy on things that bring you peace and calm

Charlotte Lankford: Be mindful of where your energy is going, especially during the holidays.
BY CHARLOTTE LANKARD Published: December 17, 2012

I read an interview with a Holocaust survivor who lost her entire family.

Her children were killed as she watched.

The question to her was, “How did you survive?” She explained, “We are given energy for each day. It is how we choose to spend our energy that matters. In the camps, some people would wring their hands, cry loudly and draw attention to them selves. They complained, complained, complained. I was quiet and did nothing to be noticed. Instead I plotted how to get extra food.”

How do you use your energy?

Since there are extra demands this time of year, how will you manage it in the next two weeks?

Pay attention to how you spend your time. Listen to the words you say to others.

Notice the self-talk that goes on in your mind.

When the Christmas decorations are packed away for another year, what will you remember?

The question becomes, not what do you want for Christmas, but what do you want from Christmas and are you willing to spend your energy in a way that will allow that to happen?

What could we do with our energy if we gave up the myth of the ideal holiday family gathering and quit striving for perfection?

Give up fussing

What if we gave up fussing over others?

What if we gave up trying to control, understanding every person is doing the best they can? There will be days when our best — or someone else's — is less than we'd hoped, but to use our energy berating ourselves or another is a waste of our time.

My suggestions for using energy wisely are choose thoughtfully that which brings you peace and calm, discontinue anything you dread doing, be with friends and family who do not have to be carefully kept, minimize time with those who do — and every now and then give yourself permission to doodle, wander and be totally unproductive.

Not only will you survive, you will have satisfying moments to remember.

Charlotte Lankard is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice. Email her at


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