Over the years, I’ve assisted many clients who were single, divorced, or widowed going into the Holidays.  They would ask me what they could do to survive what can be a very lonely and depressing time for many.  I have said we always have three options:  give up, survive, or survive and thrive.  So if you are in one of the situations above, choose to survive and thrive. 

So what do I mean by survive and thrive?  Surviving involves being single, divorced, or widowed and making it to January 2nd, which just entails time passing by.  Thriving during the holidays is a conscious decision, and one which has to be backed up with some energy.  Is it really worth the effort you might ask?  Well, follow some of the ideas below and you’ll come back and exclaim “Glenn, you were so right!  It was totally worth it.  In fact, my Survive and Thrive mentality is going to work for me each day.”  I know, I know, that seems a bit overly-optimistic, but you’ll say something to that effect.  I dare you to prove me right! 

So, let’s get to the nitty-gritty of thriving.  Some basics that promote happiness include getting 30-40 minutes of cardio exercise at least 3x/week, eating healthy, getting 7-9 hours of sleep, keeping our thoughts in an empowered and positive place, and getting good social support.  This article focuses on social support being important if we want to thrive during the holidays. 

If left unchecked when alone and heading into the holidays, it will most likely be a downer, as there are social situations all around, happy couples and families everywhere (BTW, we don’t usually notice those couples who aren’t happy, as it doesn’t fit what we are wishing we had at the moment).  Anyway, the situation leads to a desire to not be around other people, or self-isolate.  It’s the absolute best way to get more depressed and lonely.  So why is the drive so strong to do just that?  Well, this gets into one’s belief system, which is not the point of this article.  Suffice it to say, withdrawing from others is the easy road that takes no energy to start rambling down.

Now that you’ve decided you’re not going down that road this year, let’s go down a better road.  It’s the ‘jump in socially’ road.  There are so many good ideas on how to be around more people, more often, during the holidays.  I’d like to list a few categories and several activities that are helpful in thriving. 

1) Invite

What do I mean by invite? Invite others into your life. Invite some of your single, divorced, or widowed friends and others to a get together. This could be for a major deal like Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Year’s meals/parties. But no need to start so big, unless that’s your thing. How about just a movie night with popcorn? A beach party with S’mores? A local hike? There are so many activities that one could organize to get out into the world, meet up with old friends and make new ones.

2)  Meetup groups

Don’t want to organize an activity or invite others? Meetup groups have done all that for you and ate everywhere. A small sampling of Meetup groups in my area include Scuba Diving, Single Parents, Golfing buddies, Beach Volleyball, Rocking and Dancing, Nights Out, Hiking Addicts, Girls Just Want to Have Fun, etc. Find one of interest to you and go enjoy getting together. You may end up meeting up with several groups and having the best time you’ve had in years.

3) Service

I hear what you’re thinking. “Seriously?? That’s the last thing I want to do!” I know it is. I’ve been there and done that thinking.Just say “Stop it” when that thought creeps into your mind again…as it will return. When we serve others, we automatically stop focusing on ourselves, and the discomfort we are feeling in the moment. We can serve family, friends, co-workers, and then there’s underprivileged people which will really help you feel like your “cruddy life” is actually a really great life, with your basic needs met and many of your wants met, as well.

There are so many organizations which need our support at local soup kitchens, homeless shelters, runaway shelters, etc.  There are also animal shelters where your heart will also melt as you serve our furry friends.  Hospitals are another place where people are in need of a visit.  One of my favorites is convalescent centers, or as I knew them as a kid, old folks’ homes.  Many of these good people have not seen family members or friends in years. 

As you visit any of the above places, you’ll be around others in need and your heart will leave filled with love and appreciation.  Your ‘less than full’ glass of a life will seem much fuller.  You might not even feel a need to fill it any more than it is currently filled.  You’ll wish you could share some of your water with those you just visited.  The good news is you already have.  Their glasses are fuller and so is yours!  How does this happen??  Again, a topic for another day, but whether it’s due to a Higher Power, or just endorphins in the brain, it doesn’t really matter.  You feel better and so do they!  Again, I’m going to totally challenge you to prove me right on this one.

Okay, don’t want to do one of the above?  No problem.  Serve others in a less direct way.  Work for the Sub for Santa program or something similar.  Donate to an organization that helps others and then read up on what that organization does for others at this time of year especially.  Get excited for what you can do to serve others and feel happier and more connected in the process.  Just do it!

Alright, now take all those fears, loneliness, and other negative feelings and beliefs, and throw them into the garbage basket I am holding.  I love to have people fill it up and I throw it out.  In fact, if you ever have a negative thought or feeling, choose to throw it all the way to Glenn’s garbage can.  Free yourself of them.  Then look at that very moment as if you were outside of yourself.  See all the good in your life.  All those who certainly love you, whether they are present or not, living or deceased, and hear the positive words they would offer about you and the blessings they see in your life.  You likely aren’t starving, live in a comfortably heated or cooled home, have good enough health, live in a free country where you do not fear for your well-being, etc.  Feelings of gratitude will increase and a sense of well-being will fill the despair that used to be there.

Sure, we can look at what is missing in our lives and feel and think ourselves down into our Pit of Loneliness and Despair (PLD).  It’s very difficult to see anything of value in our future, when down in this pit.  It smells of an old decaying bog.  We stand in muck up to our waist and cannot seem to move, as the mud’s suction on us is imprisoning.  Or, we can look at all that is good in our lives at this very moment, freeing ourselves of the muck and decay of our PLD, until we stand on our Peak of Gratitude and Optimism (PGO).  From this peak, one can see all the opportunities that are out there in the future, and begin a plan to enjoy each step along the way. 

Let’s see…Pit of Loneliness and Despair versus Peak of Gratitude and Optimism?  On one hand, it is very easy to fall into our PLD, without any effort at all…it’s simple and costs virtually nothing to slide down into our Pit.  However, the long-term cost of choosing this path is personal, emotional imprisonment.  On the other hand, it’s a bit difficult to initially climb to our PGO, and we may even need an assist from family, friends, or a therapist; however, as we do so, we liberate ourselves from negativity.  We become empowered to set realistic future goals, and feel drawn to the good that surrounds us.

So, it comes down to which investment we want to make in our lives.  Do we want to spend the holidays slipping into our emotional imprisonment and feel the ever increasing gravity of its Black Hole of Despair or do we choose to make mental and behavioral efforts toward our emotional liberation and the positive, synergistic effect it can have on each area of our lives as we move toward our Peak? 

Don’t wait to make a change.  Do one thing differently today.  You can do this! 

Thanks for reading this entry.  May this small investment be the impetus to your choosing a better path. 

Here’s to your Happy Holidays!

Glenn L. Farr, psychotherapist, entrepreneur, and motivational speaker

Mobile: (442) 888-0873

Website: Aguidedjourneycounseling.com

Email: Aguidedjourneycounseling@gmail.com

Office: 580 Beech Avenue, Suite B, Carlsbad, CA 92008

If you would like to delve further into any of these ideas, or feel incapable of making the better choice and would like some extra support, please give me a call.  Let’s set a time to meet or video chat and create a plan to get what you really want out of your life.  I have assisted many in this process over the years and look forward to seeing the peace and joy in your eyes as you realize you have left your Pit of Loneliness and Despair or at least stopped traveling closer to it, turning the tide on self-imprisonment and are now on your way toward your Peak of Gratitude and Optimism and the absolute liberation that awaits you. 


‘Pit of Loneliness and Despair’ or ‘Peak of Gratitude and Optimism’

Call: 1 (442) 888-0873

A Guided Journey Counseling