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Finding meaning at Christmas time


Media team
4 December 2020
Dr Desirée Kozlowski Psychology lecturer at Southern Cross University
Dr Desirée Kozlowski, Psychology lecturer at Southern Cross University

When Psychology lecturer, researcher and pleasure expert Dr Desirée Kozlowski asked her Twitter audience ‘what is important to talk about on the topic of Christmas’ they came back with a range of responses.

From advice on how to keep perspective after this difficult year, avoiding the trap and stress of thinking everything has to be perfect, to the grim reality that “not all families are happy or safe, despite the ads”.

But the most common responses went something like this: “How can we ignore the commercialisation of Christmas and find the true value of our friends and family?”

There is surprisingly little high-quality psychological research on Christmas, Dr Kozlowski writes. But one study found that certain things predict higher levels of happiness at Christmas. These were:

  1. Focusing on family or religious aspects rather than consumption and spending
  2. Being older
  3. Being male

Of these, the only aspect we can act on is point one, and that brings us to ‘meaning’. Meaning aligns closely with happiness - and where we find meaning we generally experience things as richer and more satisfying.

So let’s pause, step back from the shopping and the hype, and think about what holds the most meaning for us. Once we know that, we know where we should focus our energy.

What holds the most meaning for you at Christmas time?