The start of spring seems like a weird time to be talking about Christmas spirit, I know. But last December, I was exposed to a whole new level of Christmas spirit, and it has stayed with me in the most unexpected way.
I spent the week before Christmas touring central Europe on a special holiday sailing of the Adventures by Disney Danube River Cruise. At almost every stop—from Munich to Budapest—we visited Europe’s renowned Christmas markets.
The Christmas market at Vienna’s city hall
I also got to experience Advent in Germany, the place that invented the tradition of the Christmas tree. Needless to say, they take the holiday season seriously.
But unlike here in the U.S., no one seems hurried or frazzled. No one is stressed about checking off their shopping list, or getting their home ready for guests, or the best way to cook their oversized turkey. Instead, everywhere you go, there are twinkling lights, cozy fires, and groups of friends and family sharing warm cups of mulled wine over even warmer company.
Everything seemed wondrous, playful, joyous, even breathtaking. It was like being a kid again and seeing magic for the first time. Eventually, I was able to put my finger on the core of what I was feeling … and it was awe.A Christmas tree in Budapest
“Overwhelming, surprising, humbling, even a little terrifying—awe is what we feel when faced with something sublime, exceptional, or altogether beyond comprehension,” states an article on Oprah.com. It argues that awe shifts our thinking, and inspires us to take action.
“When you are in a state of awe, it puts you off balance and as a consequence, we think people might be ready to learn new things and have some of their assumptions questioned,” researcher Kathleen Vohs told The Atlantic.
So, if you want to be less stressed, expand your thinking, and boost your creativity, start taking the time to cultivate awe in your daily life. And maybe find a way to hold on to the wonder from the most wonderful time of the year.