With a nation-wide pandemic in full swing and our world wide population feeling the affects both physical and emotional , what kind of things can we do to maintain some level of Happiness ? The answer for me and the answer for you probably wont be exactly the same, happiness spawns differently in individual minds but here are at least some of the resources I have come up with both from some of my past posts as well as some newer ideas !
I would like to start by saying that if you are finding it increasingly difficult to find happiness in these difficult times you certainly are not alone, in fact a survey, conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago, found that our happiness is at a 50-year low with 14 percent of Americans identifying as “very happy. For perspective in 2018, the number of Americans identifying as “very happy” was a rather underwhelming 31 percent ! What this says to me is that prior to the crisis Americans weren’t all that thrilled but as the crisis goes on the populations happiness has decreased by more than half ! Admittedly my conclusion is simplified at best but the point is if you have found your level of happiness substantially decreased you are far from alone, while that might not bring you Happiness it may bring comfort !
First some ideas and thoughts from my past entries that relate to basic happiness:
Let’s think about the people around us, more specifically lets consider those that live under the same roof. The number of stories concerning domestic abuse associated with the Corona Virus and the stay at home orders that followed is staggering, Being forced to share space with an abuser is never a recipe for happiness , being in a situation where retreat is almost impossible can even be dangerous. I did a blog post last year called “Happiness and emotional abuse – Jelly Beans and Sauerkraut” and the link is here . The post mainly deals with Emotional abuse which may seem annoying but tolerable but please be aware that emotional abuse is almost always the first step to physical abuse. No form of abuse will make you happy and further should never be tolerated
Likely none of us has been through anything like this in our lifetimes , we need to give ourselves permission to not only make mistakes but learn from and forgive ourselves for those inevitable mistakes. I wrote an article “Being too hard on yourself, it’s not just a saying” that deals with being too hard on yourself and the ways this robs us of happiness the article can be found here . Cut yourself some slack , there isn’t a person on this planet that is going to get everything right in this, or any new and challenging environment
Did you know that happiness has an actual mathematical formula ? Did you know that we can actually bank our happiness much as we would a savings account of sorts ? The full original blog entry “The happiness bank – Be a happiness Ninja” is here . The mathematical formula is this, for every negative thought/experience in your life you need at least 3 positive thoughts/experience to feel happy ! Let’s say the car broke down, your fighting with your significant other and maybe the rent is past due.. That’s 3 pretty heavy duty negative thoughts/experience for which you need at least 9 positive thoughts/experience to feel happiness. The good news is that the human brain can literally bank positive thoughts and experiences , a rainy day fund if you will. This is exactly why sometimes very minor things happen to us and it feels like the whole world is falling apart and other times the exact same thing might happen and it’s only a minor irritation… When we don’t work at happiness our bank gets very low and our ability to remain happy in the face of adversity is severely diminished ! My blog post gives specific ideas of ways to bank some happiness.
Money and Happiness have always had a troubled and complicated relationship, our incomes may be down, we may be worried about our future, certainly not happy thoughts by any stretch of the imagination but taking the time to explore the actual correlation between money and Happiness can create a Happier outlook . I wrote a blog post that explores this correlation and you might be surprised to find that not far beyond basic need money actually has very little to do with real happiness. The blog entry “Happiness and Money” can be found here and may very well change the way you think about money in relation to happiness
In our current world those that are flexible in the way we live and communicate with others while realizing our perspectives are not necessarily shared by all are much more likely to find happiness. Be open to change , be open to other perspectives, you needn’t agree with other perspectives, but respect for differences of beliefs and opinions will not only make you happier, it will also lend a sense of calm , a sense of being heard. We are living in very difficult times and the experience is not the same for everybody. I wrote a post entitled “Happiness , our Perspective and Differences of Opinion” that explores this very concept, it can be found here.
There are many other examples of previous posts I have written that might help you or somebody you know during these trying times, a full listing of all blog posts is here
Beyond these ideas and concepts I have more ideas for finding and sharing happiness, it wouldn’t be one of my posts if I didn’t take this opportunity to point out that sharing happiness is it’s own source of happiness 🙂 Here are some other ideas 🙂
- Let this time be a time of opportunities, focus on what this time may allow that might have been nice but not possible before, it may be challenging to find good in new realities but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Try something new, learn things about our families, a new hobby, learn a new language, if you explore the situation with a different perspective one can almost always find a hidden opportunity. Opportunities with new experiences often bring happiness !
- Help others, it may sound counter intuitive but when we help others it helps us feel like we are accomplishing something, we are being of service, happiness will follow every time if we help in the spirit of helping without expectations of reciprocation. It might be helpful to frame this suggestion to say that there are things anybody can do that may seem like a very small thing to us but can make a world of difference in somebody’s life. Sometimes simply being available to talk or just a friendly gesture can make a big difference.
- Continue to remind yourself and those around you that this crisis won’t last forever, there is a certain joy and a degree of happiness in the notion that no situation is ever permanent , better days are coming !
- Keep things in perspective, do your due diligence, follow the guidelines, protect yourself but whatever you do don’t let fear steal your happiness… Yes these are uncertain times but current precautions and guidelines seem to be working for those that will follow them ! Keep in mind that in this situation everything becomes amplified , problems that once were small may now seem much larger, in terms of happiness we need to be mindful to keep problems in perspective ! Is the problem that seems so large really of the magnitude we imagine or are we just so stressed and tired that it just seems that way ? Breathe !!
- Keep in touch with family and friends ! It has certainly been stressful and a challenge to find and share happiness in the absence of friends and family… Technology has certainly helped in this regard but remember some of our friends may struggle with Technology, some extra effort , an actual (gasp) phone call may be in order. Don’t let your friends and family fall into the crack , make a conscience effort to stay in touch with those important to you, happiness is closely to related to feeling valued , make an extra effort and as a bonus your happiness will also spike.
- Find small joys and victories where you can ! A lot of us are working from home right now , in an office environment the paths to victory may have seemed easier , the joys while sometimes hidden will be harder to find as well . Here’s the thing though , as a society we are kind of brainwashed in a way to pin victories and even joy on our work experiences, try as we might a lot of us are hardwired to think of success (victories) and the lifestyle that affords (joy) in terms of career . I encourage you, even challenge you perhaps to find ways of feeling victorious , finding sources of joy that aren’t related to a job or a career… If you can do the work and find ways to find victories and joy outside of your normal life, job, career , situation you have done a great justice for yourself and have unlocked a lot of happiness that may have otherwise never surfaced ! I’m not suggesting everybody should abandon careers or jobs I’m simply suggesting there are clear opportunities to explore other sources of happiness while we work from home.
- Forgive yourself ! I have seen people act in ways that are not representative of their true character in response to crisis, I myself have acted in ways that are foreign to me, I haven’t been the person I strive to be , dare I say it ? There were times when I failed to find happiness ! I often talk about being able to bank happiness for a future dark day but even I found myself with a negative balance , there literally was nothing left in my happiness bank. “The happiness bank – Be a happiness Ninja” was the name of the post about the concept of banking happiness , even if you have read it before it is worth a reading again… The point in all this is that not acting or feeling the same ways we did prior to crisis is natural and we need to be prepared to forgive ourselves and to forgive others for acting in ways that may have not been kind or our best selves.
I stopped writing for a while, that was a mistake, I hope you will find it in your heart to forgive me as we come out of this crisis… I thought about writing everyday , I felt guilty for not writing everyday , I felt like I could help but my happiness bank was empty and I felt like I had nothing to offer ! Looking back that seems silly and maybe something I can’t fully explain , the person that inspires happiness had difficulty finding any to share….
I will end with this :
We think too much and feel too little. More than machinery, we need humanity; more than cleverness, we need kindness and gentleness. Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost.