Recipe for Holiday Stress: 21 Ingredients to Avoid!

Blessed are the flexible, for they shall never be bent out of shape!

Holiday Stress

The holidays are a special time for cooking, baking, and eating. New recipes, old recipes, Grandma’s recipes, Uncle Mark’s recipes, Mom’s recipes—and favorite recipes! We all have those dishes we look forward to every year. But here is one entree we do not want to serve:  

Recipe for Holiday Stress: 21 Ingredients to Avoid!

  1. Argue over with whose family the holidays will be spent.
  2. Seek perfection in decorations, gift selection, and people.
  3. Take every comment personally.
  4. Possess a rigid “my way or the highway” attitude.
  5. Nag the teen son about getting a haircut.
  6. Draw no boundaries, saying yes to everything and no to nothing.
  7. Talk about self while asking little to nothing about others.
  8. Use plastic money to spend more than what’s in our bank account.
  9. Fail to recognize, compliment, and appreciate the people around us.
  10. Stay connected on Facebook but disconnected from the people present.
  11. Allow the kids to be in charge instead of Parenting the QBQ Way. (Note: Children actually want and need the parent to be “the boss.”)
  12. Push to win the “Cleanest House on the Block” award.
  13. Give others unsolicited input on what they should be doing for a living.
  14. Choose arrogance over … Humility: The magnet that draws people to us.
  15. Live the Seven Sinful Words: “We’ve never (or ‘always’) done it that way before!”
  16. Refuse to own our emotions by blaming others for our mood.
  17. Tell someone they eat too much; tell someone they eat too little.
  18. Engage in grudge-holding instead of, “Hey, no big deal. Let’s forget it.”
  19. Complain about/criticize the in-laws, or anyone—but especially the in-laws!
  20. Get hurt and angry over, um … nothing.
  21. Tell others they need to read the QBQ! book because you are convinced that they need more personal accountability!!!

Actually, I don’t mind all that much if people commit #21. 🙂

At QBQ, Inc. we teach this: Stress is a choice. Some people fight that because they think it’s the people and events in our lives that stress us out.

Sorry, but we create our own stress. And, no, don’t waste one second of your life denying what you just read. It’s true for each of us: I do the stress thing to myself!

A woman emailed me right after I spoke for FedEx in Toronto where I had said, “Stress is a choice!” She politely stated that she didn’t agree, and would give herself one month to gather evidence that stress comes from external sources. Thirty days later I received this delightful note:

“I admit I have failed to prove you wrong, John. I do create my own tension. I am now practicing personal accountability by asking QBQs so I can take care of my own stress problem!”

She’s right. We can always ask Incorrect Questions (IQs) instead of The Question Behind the Question—or QBQs. (Quick IQ vs. QBQ tutorial)

When we choose to ask IQs like, “Why is this happening to me?” “When will he change?” “Why doesn’t she ever listen?” and “Who made the mess?” we have chosen victim-thinking, procrastination, and blame. And trust me—these human traps will spoil any holiday celebration!

However, if we ask QBQs such as, “How can I contribute?” “What can I do to honor others?” “How can I find the good in people around me?” and The Ultimate QBQ!—“What can I do to let go of what I can’t control?”—we’ll be okay. The stress will be less, the fun will go further, and the holiday joy will be real.

Now that’s a dish worth serving!

Discussion and Application:

Are there any bad ingredients on the list above that are a trap for you? If so, which one(s) do you commit to avoiding this holiday season? In what other ways have you seen holidays “ruined”? Feel free to share!

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8 Responses

  1. John, I’ve had some many melt downs during the Holidays that, and I hate to say it, but it is now a tradition! Every year I say it will be different but every year it seems to get worse as I reach my breaking point. This year…it will be different, as I’ve enlisted the help of a therapist! Isn’t that sad….that during the happiest time of year I need someone to coach me through it? I’m also posting your 21 stress busters on my fridge. Thanks for the reminders and encouragement.

  2. I love these. #1 was a big one for me, now that they don’t HAVE to come they WANT to come. And now it doesn’t matter the particular day we get together, just that we do. Loving the Holidays!

  3. I have so often in the past fallen into that blame game of being in a sour mood because those around me are. #16 is my challenge of choice this year. I am resolving to have a happy holiday no matter the mood or attitude of the others around me.

  4. John,

    An unrelated QBQ story I wanted to share.

    Saturday I mowed the lawn and had to refill the gas tank. I have a nice quality 5 gallon Eagle high density polymer gas tank. It has the two caps – the large one for pouring in the front and a small vent cap at the back. Well, I filled the riding mower with gas emptying the contents into the can. Unfortunately for me I lost the small vent gap in the process. Without this small plastic cap the tank becomes useless; you can’t store an open gas can in your garage or travel with it without increasing risk..

    I looked up the manufacturer online – Eagle Manufacturing in Wellsburg West Virgiina and on the internet, got their service email address and wrote to them on Saturday that I lost the vent cap and inquired if could buy a replacement on this older model? I wasn’t sure if they would bother to respond. Four days later on Wednesday a replacement vent cap arrived in the mail – no letter, no bill, just the cap. Someone at the company took it upon them to do something which has made me a loyal client for life. Not only did I not have to follow up, they sent it to me immediately – no charge for something that was entirely my fault.

    I have 20 employees that work for me and often share your QBQ stories (most have read your book) in our weekly meetings. I’ll share this one as an example of good customer service this Friday. Someone at Eagle took personal responsibility to make a “Fan” – a loyal customer.


  5. John

    ‘Stress is a choice’. Music to my ears.

    I have been practising personal accountability, and making every effort to ‘spread those words’ to all I come in contact with. Who knew something so simple could make such an enormous difference.

    I hope that you and your family have a wonderfrul Christmas and a very Happy New Year.

    Warmest wishes


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