I decided to make holiday decorating easier this year—a smaller tree, fewer snow villages, and minimal special dinnerware. I wasn’t being a Grinch. It was all about celebrating a scaled-down version of the simple things.

As my fully decorated tree came crashing down, I realized that my tree—like the rest of 2020—didn’t seem to agree with my plans.

Life is like that, right? Best-laid plans and all that.

It’s a practice to move fluidly with life as it is, not how I want it to be. It’s a practice to decorate the tree and then move with emotional flexibility as it comes crashing down with your mother-in-law’s antique ornaments.


And this is why applying positive psychology is always in style. Life gives unlimited opportunities to practice.

As I walked around the smashed ornaments, dodging the spreading water across the hardwood floor, I piled the surviving bulbs on the dining room table. When the now naked tree was put back in place, my daughter made a comment about how beautiful the ornaments looked on the table, and arranged them so they looked even more so.

This morning, drinking my coffee, I admired my lights-only tree and the sparkling decorations on the table. I loved it. It made me happy.

This is one of the most powerful positive psychology practices. What’s good, wholesome, worthwhile, and beautiful, even amidst chaos and crisis? Can you and I be open enough to receive that, too?

That has been the practice for 2020, and will continue to be in the new year.

Ho, ho, ho, onward we go.

Megan McDonough

Megan McDonough

As the founder of Wholebeing Institute, Megan McDonough leads with divergent thinking and creative perspectives to build organizations and networks that harness the best in people for the greatest good. She has decades of leadership experience in diverse settings, in roles ranging from Alliance Manager of a $300 million relationship at DuPont; to General Manager of RISE at Kripalu, the largest yoga retreat center in North America; to numerous online-learning startups. A yoga enthusiast, Megan has practiced for more than 20 years and taught for more than a decade, and brings that mindfulness practice to her leadership. Her degree in biology, natural science, and nuclear medicine has little to do with her current work, and everything to do with her radically receptive approach to life. She is the award-winning author of four books on living mindfully.