Are You a Holiday “Master” or “Disaster”

This time of year more than any other, I usually find myself in a bit of a cosmic slur, How about you?

Between gift lists and groceries and holiday cards and seasons greetings and concerts and secret Santa’s, it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle and allow our minds to whir in the ordering of it all. By the time the holidays pass, we can be ready for another vacation from our vacation. Dear friend, I wish it weren’t so. And dare I suggest, it doesn’t have to be?

Over the years I’ve discovered a secret that I’d like to share with you. The secret to overcoming the daunting holiday hustle is something so simple and timeless, I think each of us could muster up a few extra seconds to unveil it and put it to good use. The Secret, my dear friend, is Gratitude.

Having a Gracious outlook on your life at this time of year can drastically change how you view shopping in crowded stores, interacting with online shipping glitches, spending hours with family in uncomfortable places and yes, even turning traffic jams into cause for joyous singing!

A study by The Gottman Institute recently showed that this kind of Grateful Living is something that distinguishes people into two classes “Masters” or “Disasters.”

Gottman invited 130 newlywed couples to spend the day at a retreat and watched them as they did what couples normally do on vacation: cook, clean, listen to music, eat, chat, and hang out. And Gottman made a critical discovery in this study – one that gets at the heart of why some people thrive in relationships while others languish. Holidays are built on relationships and becoming a relationship Master is the key.

Throughout the day, partners would make requests for connection, what Gottman calls “bids.” For example, say that the husband is a bird enthusiast and notices a goldfinch fly across the yard. He might say to his wife, “Look at that beautiful bird outside!” He’s not just commenting on the bird here: he’s requesting a response from his wife – a sign of interest or support – hoping they’ll connect, however momentarily, over the bird.

The wife now has a choice. She can respond by either “turning toward” or “turning away” from her husband, as Gottman puts it. Though the bird-bid might seem minor and silly, it can actually reveal a lot about the health of the relationship. The husband thought the bird was important enough to bring it up in conversation and the question is whether his wife recognizes and respects that.

People who turned toward their partners in the study responded by engaging the bidder, showing interest and support in the bid. Those who didn’t – those who turned away – would not respond or respond minimally and continue doing whatever they were doing, like watching TV or reading the paper. Sometimes they would respond with overt hostility, saying something like, “Stop interrupting me, I’m reading.”

These bidding interactions had profound effects on marital well-being. Couples who had divorced after a six-year follow up had “turn-toward bids” 33 percent of the time. Only three in ten of their bids for emotional connection were met with intimacy. The couples who were still together after six years had “turn-toward bids” 87 percent of the time. Nine times out of ten, they were meeting their partner’s emotional needs.

By observing these types of interactions, Gottman can predict with up to 94 percent certainty whether couples – straight or gay, rich or poor, childless or not – will be broken up, together and unhappy, or together and happy several years later. Much of it comes down to the spirit couples bring to the relationship. Do they bring kindness and generosity; or contempt, criticism, and hostility?

The same is true for us, married or single, we have the ability to look for the positive in our situations and the good in those we interact with, or we can respond with ungratefulness and ingratitude toward others. The kind of spirit we bring to all the holiday interactions has everything to do with making holiday magic or holiday disasters.

“There’s a habit of mind that the masters have,” Gottman explained in an interview, “which is this: they are scanning social environment for things they can appreciate and say thank you for. They are building this culture of respect and appreciation very purposefully. Disasters are scanning the social environment for mistakes.”

The Apostle Paul put it this way in his letter to the Corinthians, “Love bears up under anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person, its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, and it endures everything [without weakening].” (AMPC)

Perhaps this invocation to believe the best of others under all circumstances has been the key all along.

The question is not whether the Secret is true, that it goes without question is undeniable. The question becomes a matter of our own choice, Will we become “Masters” or “Disasters” in this life?

It’s up to you.

Until The Day Dawns and the Shadows flee,


Kim Engel is mother of two children, Author, Speaker and lover of the Word. She has a heart for encouraging women to Awaken to their God-given gifts and callings and to see the Body of Christ come together in unity as it continues the mission of Jesus Christ to bring love to the world in the hope of salvation and by the power of the Holy Spirit. She is founder of Sheerah Ministries, a collaboration of women intent on sharing the good news and inspiration of Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit through teachings, retreats, speaking engagements, writing, media and the arts. Follow Kim on her Facebook page and on Instagram and Twitter @WakingEve or contact by email at SUBSCRIBE to our blog to keep updated on Sheerah Ministries blogs by contributing partners, news and events.<

Read the full Gottman Study results here

Let us know your thoughts? Were we right on or do we need more coffee?