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.

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 over-sized 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

Lately, a lot has been written about “awe ,” and the role it
plays in our lives—from individual well-being to the collective good.

“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.

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