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I mostly work in a vacuum. What I mean by that is that I don't labor in an office with coworkers. I don't have any employees. Nor do I really have to answer to anyone but myself. It's been like this for years.

This can be both good and bad. The good is that I'm used to getting my own way. The bad is that I'm used to getting my own way. Therefore, I don't have conflicts with other people very often. In fact, during the past 20 years I can only remember two or three times when someone was really getting on my nerves or conversely they were mightily upset with me. During the worst one in the early 1990s, I found myself spending large amount of emotional energy on one particular person. In the midst of lovely activities like walking on the beach, I would suddenly find my teeth clenched and in the middle of a Walter Mitty-type daydream where I was pummeling my nemesis. I would shake my head to get rid of these images but they kept reccurring.

I can still clearly remember the moment I let all of that go. I found the secret and what a relief it was. Funny, it was a variation on the same theme I had been telling my young son many times. Basically that whatever or whoever is bothering you, you have a choice. You don't have to let it bother you. But there was one more element that I needed. I knew intellectually that I had a choice. But that wasn't working for me. Until I truly forgave the other person I still harbored resentment. That was the secret. Forgiveness. Suddenly all that negative energy just evaporated.

Now I don't mean to imply that I become Mother Theresa. But I do suggest that you try this tack. We all have resentments, anger, mistrust. And they seem to intensify around the holidays. Try forgiving others. And remember that you are not excusing others' behavior, you are forgiving them. There's a difference.

This is Michael Ellis, with a Perspective.