Tomorrow is the official International Day of Happiness. Yet many of us are feeling anything but happy. On this day, a day that is set aside, around the world, to remember, honor and focus on happiness, I want to provide you with where I am, and a few tools that have helped me, and I hope, might help you too.
I’ve been struggling all week to write this email. What do you say about happiness in the middle of a pandemic? These are serious times. News reports are grim. Fear is ripe. The economy is taking a hit. People are losing jobs. Schools are closed. Sporting events are cancelled. Our healthcare system is being tested. Is this really a time to be talking about happiness?
YES. IT. IS.
I’ve written about, studied and spoken on happiness for over a dozen years. I eat, live and breathe this stuff….. and I’ve been in a funk all week. I’ve felt scared. I’ve been worried. I miss going to the gym. I’ve been short-tempered. I haven’t slept well. I’m eating carbs like a marathon runner before a race. I’ve had a few moments when I wish I could just put my head down and go back to the way things were a month ago.
But that’s not going to happen, and so I’ve gone back to my roots. Back to the habits of happiness that I speak and teach, and guess what? My mood shifted, I felt lighter… and I actually started to feel and think HAPPY again!
I want to share with you some of the things that helped me, based on the One Minute Happiness Habit, in the hopes that they might help you too!
ENGAGE Engaging is about being present to what is happening, right now. We all have a front row seat to something extraordinary. Let’s not go through it blindly, not paying attention.
For many of us, this a time when our ‘normal’ routines are being shifted. Less travel. Perhaps working from home. The kids around the house more. No eating out. No shuttling kids to practice or games. No social events.
Let’s use this forced shift in habit to look at the areas of our lives where we’ve just been going through the motions and determine: Where in my life can I ENGAGE MORE, CHECK OUT LESS and FIND GREATER HAPPINESS in a NEW WAY OF BEING?
BE POSITIVE A tricky one when times are tough. All of my events for the next 2 months have been either cancelled or rescheduled. One of my sons works at the University of Arkansas which has shut down until next fall, and he’s left without work. My daughter’s daycare has closed and she’s trying to figure out childcare and flex working schedules with her husband. Everything feels topsy-turvy.
But we can find good things if we look for them. Yesterday, I was on the phone with Verizon for over 4 hours! I took care of three issues on my account I’ve needed to handle for months but haven’t had the time. I would have been in Arizona yesterday if my event hadn’t been cancelled. Since I’m self-quarantining, I had all the time in the world to be on the phone yesterday, and in the time I was on hold, I made homemade pizza and a batch of paleo chocolate chip cookies. (CLICK HERE if you want the recipe. They’re delicious and no refined sugar!) That’s something to be happy about.
Whatever we look for, we’ll find. The world has a gloom and doom feel right now, but YOU don’t have to. WHAT IN YOUR LIFE CAN YOU FIND TO BE HAPPY ABOUT? Maybe it’s just that you’ve got toilet paper! ? Look for some good in this situation… because whatever we look for, we WILL find!
FOCUS For me personally, this has been the toughest. I find my mind wandering off in a million different ways. Earlier this week, I found myself in my office just shuffling papers – not really doing anything, just picking stuff up and putting it down in another place. I didn’t accomplish a thing!
I preach (I mean I preach it, just like my daddy from the pulpit) GOAL SETTING. And the whole thing about goal setting is that it is about the future. It’s about looking forward and not back. It’s about deciding what’s important to you and focusing on that!
Most of you know I’ve been working on my book about women’s happiness for the past year and a half. It occurred to me that this time of no events, no travel, no marketing to do (can’t imagine what a meeting planner would think if I reached out this week as they’re cancelling events rather than planning them! LOL!) – I could really FOCUS on my book!
That same thought allowed me to FOCUS on getting some files cleaned out that I’ve wanted to, but just didn’t have the time. It allowed me to FOCUS on handling the Verizon issues I’ve needed to. Since I’m not going anywhere, I’m being forced to stay home and do some things I’ve wanted to but haven’t.
What are some things you’ve wanted to do, but haven’t had the time? This forced slowing down of our whole culture – no travel, no school, no sports, no church, no social gatherings – is a time where we can RE-FOCUS and shine a light on OTHER THINGS we’ve wanted to GET DONE. Set some goals. Make a list. Get Focused. Before you know it, life will be humming along at that old frenetic pace….
CONNECT This is the most important. We need each other NOW more than ever! This is the perfect time to catch up with old friends. Instead of going to the gym I’m biking or walking my own neighborhood. I put in a pair of earbuds and have had some beautiful conversations with friends & family from far away. I’ve reached out via text to friends near and far to see how they’re doing. I’ve been able to connect with some of my ‘speaker’ friends who I usually only get to see at the NSA Annual Convention – we’ve actually had the time to have lengthy, REAL conversations.
I sent out 6 letters yesterday – to friends I know that are feeling lonely or isolated. I thought it might be nice for them to at least get something in the mail. I think when we come out on the other side of this, we’re all going to feel more connected and more inter-dependent than we ever have. This can bring us all closer rather than tear us apart.
We might not be able to give physical hugs or handshakes right now, BUT HOW CAN YOU TOUCH THE PEOPLE THAT MATTER MOST TO YOU? Get creative. Utilize skype and facetime and Facebook Live. Utilize paper and pen. You don’t have to reach out to the masses, but let’s reach out to each other.
GRATITUDE My favorite! Gratitude. Gratitude. Gratitude. Gratitude shifts our consciousness. Gratitude takes us out of those emotions like fear, sadness or worry, and shifts us to a higher plane. I’m not saying it’s wrong to feel those feelings. Especially with what we’re experiencing in the world today, but gratitude is the perfect antidote to these emotions.
Once you’ve felt those feelings, then shift to gratitude. Focus on all the blessings in your life. Focus on what you do have, not what you don’t. It will raise your vibration and help you operate from a place of higher consciousness. It will open the realm of possibilities you see available to you. It allows you to be expansive, rather than constricted. Gratitude helps us make sense out of what seems to make no sense. And bottom line, it makes us feel GOOD!
Right now, think of 3 things you are grateful for. Send a text to your spouse, best friend, mom or dad, to your kids and the people you love, and tell them 3 things about them for which you are grateful. Their answers may bring you to tears. In this trying time, we need to love and appreciate each other. Practice gratitude in a way that it’s made visible to those around you. We’ll all be lifted together.
So this has been a wordy blog. I didn’t want to sugarcoat my fears or failings in these scary times. I want you to know that even though happiness is my life’s work – even though I meditate daily and focus on the good and have gratitude in my DNA – I wanted you to know that there are times when I struggle too – when happiness eludes me – and this week has been one of them. I’m working just like you to make sense of all this and keep moving forward with love and hope in my heart.
So love yourself. Love each other. Be kind to yourself. Be kind to each other. Be patient with yourself. Be patient with each other.
We’re all going to be ok.