If you're like me, the holidays always have a way of sneakingin. And - like an unexpected visitor who shows up the week Ihaven’t cleaned my home - I’m caught in a frenzy, desperate to scrape up the tumbleweeds of cat fur and make the place look presentable.  

For me at least, it’s easy to forget the true meaning of Christmas and Thanksgiving. Time is short and usually so is patience. So this year, all this got me to thinking: How can one neutralize the stress and get more enjoyment from the holidays true intention? Read on for this girl’s remedies.

Finding Grace:
When meditating on the true meaning of this season, three ideas came to my mind: grace, gratitude and random acts of kindness. At first I wasn’t sure why.

Grace? I mean, how could I afford this? It’s been a rough year full of deadlines, long hours and a whole lot of doing.Who’s got time for grace? And therein is the answer: so often the business of life far overshadows its true excitement;the thrill of living in the moment, the anticipation of eventsyet to come.

How to get back to this state of childlike wonder?

My #1 RX: Motivational Tapes
When I’m feeling frazzled there’s nothing that gets me centeredfaster than hearing the voice of my favorite authors. And overthe years I’ve built an extensive collection of tapes just for this purpose. This can work for you, too. I think you’ll findwhen you need a portal to peace and guidance,it’s almost instantaneous.

Feel free to try some of my favorites:

Dr. Wayne Dyer – There Is A Spiritual Solution To Every ProblemNeale Donald Walsch: Conversations with God, Book OneIyanala Vanzant: Live! Audio: Piece of Mind (all available from your favorite bookstore or Amazon.com)

How do motivational tapes work? In my assessment, they providecomfort. They calm the mind and center the emotions. Then, when the stress of modern-day life comes along, the mind draws forth the inspirational words into the consciousness like a helpfuldata base. Moreover, I believe this exercise, when practiced consistently, can provoke a state of grace.

Need grace this holiday season? I invite you to use my method.In doing so here’s what evolves:

The reward for seeking grace? Gratitude. What is gratitude? Iwould say it's an instrument of faith. Here's an example. Often during stressful times, I ask for guidance: During a vulnerable moment this holiday season, I received an angry emailfrom a critical reader (calling me unmentionable names). And so I ask: "Please help me understand and make peace with this."

In the act of asking and placing faith in the universe I soonreceived the answer: forgive. And for me, this process of graceand forgiveness is solidified in gratitude. Gratitude gives methe faith to (as one of my favorite authors Thoreau once quoted)"move confidently in the direction of ones dreams."

Therefore, when I am grateful for what I have and trust that I am moving in my own particular direction (regardless of whatothers - perhaps having a rough and stressful day tell me), I find my truest treasure: joy.

An Exercise In Gratitude:
Each day (especially during this time of year) I've committedto taking a long look around myself. In doing so, I find everything I can to be grateful for: a kind and loving family, my health, my passion for writing. Soon I am overwhelmed with gratitude for what I have been given and every ounce of negativityhas fallen away.

With this, I say “Thank You!” aloud, in praise of the gift I have received. When I have taken the time to do this (which often involves sitting down with pen and paper in hand)I continue to be offered more in the way of positive experience.

Now I invite you to try this exercise for yourself. Ask: Whatdo I have to be grateful for right now? Take the time to notice,make a list and say "Thank You!" I truly believe if one continuesoffering positive statements forward to the universe: the pathwayto beautiful joyful experience is opened. We are then in a stateof co-creation.

Random Acts of Kindness:
The completion to the circle comes when we have reached some measure of emotional and spiritual equilibrium. When I have reached this place of balance with my (or what I perceive to be)problems and stress, I have followed what Philosopher Joseph Campbell calls "bliss."

 Are we ever truly in bliss? Well, this is real life after all.However, when I've taken the time to become more grateful and accepting of where I am right now there is a way I can continueto expand my gratitude. How? 

By sharing it.

I've noticed, if I continue to give away what I have in earnest,it expands. Therefore, If I choose to create more joy in my life,I can do so by causing another to feel joy. How? Here's my favorite way: random acts of kindness. 

Perhaps I may sound certifiable to some. But, I invite you to trythis exercise for yourself. Need some ideas to spread the love?Here's my method.

Usually I begin by asking myself "How is it I may serve?" Can I give a few extra dollars to charity in this holiday season? Can I send a card and a short message to someone who I haven't seen in awhile? Can I send flowers to my mom "just because?"

If you look around, it is not hard to find ways to share a loving thought or message. For a small amount of time, effortand money it's easy to cause an earthquake of joy. Furthermore,In these times of war and fear, every moment and thought of joy and love counts.

In Closure:
When I become stressed-out and unfocused, I always try to remindmyself: it's all in the attitude. If I think it’s raining outside, dark, cold, and lifeless, this is the life I create.Yet, if I face my obstacles with grace, love and gratitude, I create more of that. By giving love and kindness - there's justthat much more to go around.

Author's Bio: 

Laura Turner is a writer and author. She publishes the bi-weekly New Body News and Wellness Letter, The Online Magazine Healthy People Read. ( www.new-body-news.com )Her latest book: Spiritual Fitness: The 7-Steps to LivingWell is currently available. Learn more here:www.new-body-news.com/Spiritual_Fitness.htm