Social Distancing! Allowing time to have some joy..
“Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.” ― Mother Theresa.
The other day, Prime Minister advised quite strongly – ‘Stay home and Be Safe’. Away from the ill wind blowing around the world.
So I thought with slight anxiety this may be quite a trying period for us, especially new parents. Then again, I shook myself – maybe this is the best time for us to begin to appreciate more. After all, I know that experiences can be significant and gratifying. But what happened yesterday won’t make me happy right now because as you know, the human brain is wired to find happiness in new experiences. That’s why the first cookie you eat tastes better than the third. By the third cookie, your brain is already too happy, and that third cookie doesn’t taste as special as the first one. (This is me in my craving mode). I don’t know if there will be cookies tomorrow, considering the empty shop aisles- we do not know when normal lives will return- so how can i be happy about an uncertain future right now?.
Luckily my 13year old sauntered into the living room to distract my ‘doomsday’ craving thoughts. For him, he is tired from staying up late last night and looking for yet more things to eat from the fridge, annoyed at the school closure but glorifying the opportunity to do the set school works on his own terms. And while listening to him merrily chatting away on his phone, my thoughts strayed eerily into the reality of this pandemic-the past few weeks, it feels weird to see him home- who would have ever imagined that 2020 with all its big promises will begin like this… However, experts agree that Living in the moment should make us happier because we stay more focused and dwell on the good around you even though you struggle to find the good.
However, I read that Happy people use these techniques to focus on the present and find more happiness:
• Worry Less
• Be Grateful
• Be Optimistic
To appreciate what is going on around you instead of worrying about something should help to make you happier. Happy people don’t let worry or regret to cloud the moment. In the current climate? Just try.
Yes, we are at home but without freedom.
How do people stay happier, even when their lives have obstacles? I wonder. Happier people are grateful for the good things in their lives and don’t focus on the bad. I reminded myself the 15th time. Each good moment means more to them than the bad times. A recent study asked participants to write down what they were grateful for and tracked their happiness over time.
The study found that the people who focused on what they were grateful for were happier for a more extended period than those that stopped focusing on what they had written about being grateful. The study also showed that the more things a person wrote, the happier they were overall. Simply put, the study suggested that Gratitude helps us to see each moment as a gift instead of a problem.. Honestly, I am a graduate of this knowledge and we all know it. However, there is a BUT… Don’t go there!
Are you a pessimist or an optimist. Frankly, I am not alone struggling to remain an optimist. Yea, Optimism helps put your experiences into a positive focus. It creates a mindset of finding happiness instead of looking for problems. Optimists believe that there is something good to be gained from every moment in life. Happier people are always looking for the good instead of the bad in all situations.. Thanks. I get it! While I was happy that I was one of the few who got a deal on something, like finding pasta on the supermarket shelve, the overall experience is not positive.
Spending a day in the park, or listening to music at home may be a more enjoyable experience for you because none of these experiences requires fighting other people for space or enjoyment. Hence, Looking forward to spending quality time doing something you enjoy improves your happiness because you know there is less competition for what you want.
Scientists have proved that there is a link between smiling and feeling happier. They suggest Smiling releases chemicals in the brain and body that lift your mood and subsequently decrease pain. These chemicals also lower blood pressure and increase physical endurance, reducing the effects of stress on the body. When you feel better, you also feel happier. Smiling changes your body and mind and helps you feel happier at the moment, regardless of the stresses around you..Being optimistic and smiling more makes you happier by focusing your mind on the good in life..
Agreed we are encouraged to put away our worry and be obliged instead to someone else.. but, we know, when people are unhappy, they feel anxious, uncertain, troubled and particularly powerless.. this is now the feeling from current social distancing..When you are discontented, the last thing you want to be confronted with is the fact that you have to allow yourself to have some joy. But, this is where the strength abounds. So now we stay home, we should be more in tune with ourselves/emotions, learn to appreciate, show compassion, gratitude, respect, moreso fall in love with ourselves all over and BE SAFE. Hooray!!
Surely they must be light at the end of this tunnel. We are hopeful, expecting that joy will be restored. Although one may argue that Joy is relative. Pessimists may suggest that Joy was almost lost in the hustle and bustle of our daily lives. That we lose our sense of happiness in getting the children fed and out the door to school, in keeping the dishes washed and the laundry sorted, and in completing our seemingly never-ending to-do lists on our desks at work….
I would like to share these four simple steps to using gratitude to bring some sort of joy.
Do not Analyze
One of the most important pieces of advice for practising gratitude is to stop comparing /analysing yourself and circumstances to others.
Instead, when you notice yourself slipping into the old habit of examining yourself to others and their seemingly better/worst situations, focus on what you have fulfilled. Be grateful for the things that you have done, for the people who surround you, and for what you do have in your life.
Mindfulness is a type of meditation that can bring your mind back into the focus of what is important. Mindfulness can be practised in several ways, but one of the most common is simply setting aside a quiet time each day to focus your thinking or notice your breathing.
Using mindfulness as a daily practice can be a great way to channel your thoughts toward gratefulness. Instead of simply counting your breaths, or listening to the noises around you, schedule a time dedicated to thinking about what you have to be grateful for.
Further, the practice of mindfulness has been said to reduce stress and anxiety. Coupled with a renewed focus on gratefulness, this is sure to bring joy back into your life.
Practice Purposeful Journaling
Journaling can be a wonderful practice for relieving stress and managing difficult times. I have a ranting journal to vent all of my stressful experiences. Focusing my journaling on a specific purpose helped me to separate those stressful thoughts from my everyday experiences.
The same practice of purposeful journaling can be used to keep track of what you are grateful for. Keeping a journal specific to gratefulness will focus your thoughts on things that bring you joy.
If you have a day where you are especially struggling to find joy, reading back through past entries in your gratitude journal will help you to re-focus your thinking on the joy you have found in your life.
Make a Daily Habit of Saying Thank You
When was the last time you sent your mother-in-law a text to let her know how much her help is appreciated? Have you told your spouse how much you appreciate their help around the house? Or what about a co-worker, have you voiced how much your afternoon venting session means to you? Now is the time!
Making a point to send a meaningful thank you to someone who makes your life better is extremely therapeutic. We do not express our gratitude for each other enough. This does not have to be a sappy display, and it can be done through a simple text if you wish. However, you choose to deliver it, make it a point to thank someone who means something to you every single day. Realizing that spending this time for yourself is beneficial to everyone in your family is the first step toward freedom.
Practicing gratitude is an excellent way of allowing ourselves to bring back the joy- momentarily!