July 5, 2020: Happiness During a Global Pandemic
The world we live in right now is certainly not the one of a few months ago. To say that we are living in a time of crisis is an understatement. The reality is that we are living under layers of crisis. A health crisis, an economic crisis, a political crisis, a moral crisis, a crisis of humanity. It is extremely easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of what this is doing to our lives and become stressed and/or depressed. We know that our world is changing in profound ways, and that even when we find our way through, the world will be permanently changed. The fact that we do not yet even really know what that world will look like, adds another layer of worry and burden.
We are inundated with tips on keeping ourselves physically healthy during this pandemic- wash hands frequently, avoid crowds, social distance, wear a mask. But how can we keep ourselves emotionally healthy?
I have always been an enthusiastic reader of psychology and personal growth non-fiction. I embrace and practice the 7-Habits of Steven Covey. I read and listen to Tony Robbins’ personal coaching books and podcasts. I have also enjoyed reading Gretchen Ruben’s books on happiness, the happify website, and reading the current research on joy and happiness.
It might seem counterintuitive to say that we need to be joyful and find happiness during this time of global crisis, but I think that is exactly what we need. At least it is what I need.
In order to help me do that, I have decided to focus on the word PEACE, with each letter standing for something.
Spend some time each day or week planning. That means we must look ahead, have some goals, and embrace optimism. This crisis will not last forever. Looking ahead can certainly help to make the present more bearable. Planning that holiday family gathering you hope to have or thinking ahead to next summer’s vacation can help. Thinking both short and long term when planning will help to balance the uncertainty of these next few months.
E- Embrace the Moment
Be present. There is always joy to be found in the small things in life. This is perhaps the time to really follow through on that mantra of savoring those moments. The smell of fresh brewed coffee in the morning. The sounds of rain on the roof at night. The way the sun streams through the window in the morning. Stop and acknowledge these moments and breathe. Seek to limit distractions while you play with the kids or fold the laundry.
A- Acknowledge Positives
Look for all of the things for which to be grateful. When you really do start to look, they are everywhere. Being grateful for your most comfortable pair of yoga pants might seem trite, but if we start the day with gratitude as we pull them on, our entire outlook changes. Consciously look for those silver-linings, even in things that do not appear to be positive. Chances are you can find something for which to be grateful!
C- Creativity Rules
Since we cannot do what we have always done, try something new. While having all of our routines and schedules totally upended is truly difficult, perhaps this can free us up to try something new. Or to look at things in ways we have not in the past. This may be the perfect time to reassess our priorities and how our time was being spent prior to the pandemic.
E- Empathize with Others
Be less judgmental. Everyone is experiencing these crises in different ways and everyone is carrying burdens and experiences of which we may not be aware. People are worried and scared and most are doing the very best they can. Be kind. Be helpful. Be gracious. Cut people slack. For me, this also means not feeling like I have to share my opinion, or comment, on everything that is out there.
How ever you decide to do it, I do believe it is important to find joy in life. We cannot wait for all of the crises to be solved or “things to get back to normal” to be happy. We must do it now. For our own emotional health.
Find joy! Be happy!