How to Make Joy When You Can’t Find It Around You
What a time to be alive. The kids are out of school. The bees are buzzing and the flowers blooming. For a minute you’d think spring has sprung. It has, but the depth of the reality is far less simplistic. We are in the middle of a full-blown pandemic. I call it the Corona Chronicles.
From a public health perspective, the straits are dire. At the time of this writing, the CDC reported 427,460 total reported COVID-19 cases with 14,696 deaths in the United States. Per the Labor Department, unemployment applications skyrocketed with 6.6 million filings last week. And people have panic purchased all the toilet paper. Great.
Fighting For the Good
People are also spending more time with family, more people have the flexibility to work from home, and we are seeing the extraordinary talents of our educators as they creatively navigate a new academic frontier with their bright students. We are taking the time to smell the roses. Much of our society is showing greater appreciation for the front line warriors that make the world go ’round on a daily basis – and reopening conversations that address disparities and inequities that affect them. And people are RECOVERING from the virus.
But you wouldn’t know it judging from social media. The 24-hour news cycle has become the hub of information and the enemy of mental health. If you thought your feeds were full of bell ringers and harbingers of death before, it’s ten times worse now. Somewhere in these developments, I noticed that my Facebook feed might have one glimmer of positivity for every 10 or 15 posts. Death statistics here, new case count there, bickering about stay-at-home orders, blah blah blah. And there is so much fascination and fixation on all that is wrong at the moment. Given how much media we consume on a daily basis, negativity has become a new mental food group. It’s pessimism porn at it’s finest.
Now, I’m not saying that any of this is unimportant. If we want to get to the finish line, we all have to engage, stay educated, and do our parts, but at this rate, many of us who emerge physically whole will be mentally broken by the time this is over.
Be the Change You Wish To See In the World
Last week, I went to one of my least favorite essential retailers (rhymes with All-Cart). Determined to keep a good attitude, I brought with me a sunny disposition. As I was checking out, I made small talk with the cashier, as I normally do. I made it a point to thank her for being there. Her countenance lightened, and she began to tell me about her children to which she was afraid she would bring home COVID-19. We commiserated over the fact that we both lost grandmothers around the same time last year. She also mentioned that with the exception of a few ungrateful customers, patrons had been much nicer of the past few weeks than normal. Something to smile about.
As I talked to the cashier, we connected over gratefulness for our lives, for families, and much needed rest that would come for her that weekend. Then a thought came to me as clear as day: where you cannot find joy, MAKE JOY. Yes, it’s a crappy world out there right now, and it’s okay to sit in that reality, but it is also constituted by our contribution.
3 Ways To Make Joy In the World Around You
- Limit your consumption of media. If you want to marinate in that cesspool of disaster go right ahead, but don’t be surprised to discover that it is making you salty. You are what you eat. Check reputable sources often enough to stay abreast, but don’t stay on long enough to get into arguments with internet epidemiologists.
- Let gratitude drive your attitude. Wake up each day thankful for something. If you’re working from home, be grateful that you can be safe and still collect a paycheck. If you are still working in public, appreciate being employed. If you are not working at all, focus your thanks on your life and health, and try to savor the time you have. Keep it real, then keep it positive.
- Share the wealth of joy (not the germs). Please and thank you go a long way. If you have to go out, show some appreciation for the people that make that possible. Instead of scowling at every person you see out and about, focus on ways to stay safely connected. Pool your grocery run or delivery. Do duo calls with friends and family to limit visits. Write letters!
Whatever you choose to do, remember that you are receiving deposits from everything you interface with – and making them, too. Francis Assissi said that all the darkness in the world cannot extinguish the light of a single candle. You – yes, YOU – are the candle. Imagine how much light we’d have if we all decided to be lit, and light one another.
How will you make joy the world? Share your ideas below!