I entered the doorway of our company staff party, looking up at the mistletoe above the door. How could a simple little plant provoke a flirtation and an innocent-enough kiss? I paused for a moment, only to realize that there was no one on the other side of that door who, in my opinion, was “mistletoe-worthy.”
There would be no kissing today!
I spent forty hours a week with these people, and on the Friday night of the obligatory holiday staff party, I most certainly didn’t want to kiss any of them. The thought of double-dipping my carrot in the veggie dip was a scary-enough thought. So as I stood under the mistletoe, I noticed no one was rushing to embrace me, and I would have another dreaded year of singleness, which was especially amplified during the holiday season. I began to resent that little mistletoe. As I did an emotional wrestling match with my cynicism about being single yet another year, I started to realize some valuable lessons.
Reminder #1: Stop Making Your World about Work
My emotional world had become about work. I lived and breathed deadlines and a never-ending “to do” list. During the rest of the staff party, I watched my co-workers drink themselves into a flurry of bravado stories of their work accomplishments. I yearned for the days of spontaneity and adventure, but instead, even my spare moments were being absorbed in work details. That evil little mistletoe (yes, my cynicism was winning) was a reminder that the fun aspects of my life were evaporating like a mist. I needed to get a life and to stop drowning my dissatisfaction in work. If I wanted to meet people, I had to get “out there” and away from work.
Reminder #2: Don’t Give Up Your Happiness
I had become haggard and was burning out on an emotional level. Attractive people are happy people, and they glow with inner satisfaction. Somewhere along the way I had made myself so busy that I forgot to say no and set limits. I kept piling on the work projects in an attempt to distract myself from my lack of a personal life. Essentially, I had given up my happiness by becoming consumed with work. I needed to get myself back again and find balance between work and play. All work and no play really is boring!
Reminder #3: Make Room for Laughter
I was becoming comfortable with a level of cynicism and sarcasm. In simplest terms, I resented happy people, and I stopped laughing. Somewhere along the way I became so responsible and serious that I forgot to play in the adventure of life. I couldn’t even make it through a door without analyzing a poor mistletoe, and I lived with this heaviness of being single, waiting for someone to release me from what was becoming an emotional prison. Even I wanted to take a vacation from myself. I overthought everything and needed to get back into the spontaneity and adventure of life. In fact, I needed to clear the emotional clutter and seriousness in my life and learn to laugh again.
Then I did it—I entered through the doorway and learned to play in life again. I was way too young to make my life about work; instead, I needed to make my emotional world larger by meeting new “mistletoe-worthy people.” In fact, I needed to leave all of this seriousness behind me.
Now, many years later, I am married, but I take a break every month as I remind myself to play again. Life is an amazing adventure, and work can take over if we let it. Now I make sure I have that play time with my kids, just to feel and be in life. People like me make simple mistletoes complicated with overthinking, so sometimes I just need to smell the roses, grind up the coffee beans or enjoy whatever is happening in the moment.