DISCLAIMER: Though vaccines have allowed many of us to return to more normal activities, the pandemic isn’t over, and it’s still crucial that we all follow the evolving CDC guidelines to keep both ourselves and others safe.
“Perfect happiness is a beautiful sunset, the giggle of a grandchild, the first snowfall. It’s the little things that make happy moments, not the grand events. Joy comes in sips, not gulps.” ~Sharon Draper
It had been a cloudy Sunday afternoon. It was dark outside, as the sun had already set.
“How are you?”
“Oh, good. There’s nothing extraordinary. It’s quiet,” my mom responded when I called her a couple of months ago.
“It’s quiet” had been her response for the past two years, possibly before that. My mother is now retired. Since the pandemic, her life became even more “quiet” than before—fewer friends, fewer activities, less fun.
I’m not retired, but I work from home, and the same happened to me. To some degree, It happened..
I got used not to seeing others, not laughing, or dancing. I became comfortable being alone. It was more convenient to remain at home for Saturdays rather than go to social activities. Did I develop mild symptoms of social anxiety. Maybe.
One thing was certain, my social skills were deteriorating and I forgot how to have fun. How was joy?
“I feel like this must be what it’s like for the elderly; when no one visits them and they don’t have many friends and activities, they sort of start dying inside.”
“That’s how I feel right now,” my mom responded.
Maybe you’ve felt the same thing at one time. Feeling unable to engage in any activity and not wanting to see people, because you have lost the ability and passion for connecting with others.
“I think it’s a slippery slope. This is something we should change. We should make an effort to break the pattern and start socializing and doing activities again before we die inside,” I told my mom.
I thought about what I said after I had finished speaking. I knew that “shoulds” wouldn’t make the situation better; I had to be proactive and do something about it. I got out my pen and notebook, and began writing an action program.
These are three of the things that I wrote that day, which have helped me to find joy again in my life.
1. Do one thing on your list of “joys.”
A close friend of mine lost his wife to cancer two years ago. She was only a few short months from being diagnosed.
This was quite a surprise to him. The two of them had many projects together. They bought a campervan and traveled around North America. Also, they built a home off the grid. These plans vanished suddenly and my friend was forced to learn how to cope with grief while living alone.
A list of what made him happy helped him overcome depression and restore his passion for life. He completed his list every day over the following three months.
I took that advice and created my list of fifteen “little joys.”
They’re not complicated. You can do them by watching the sun set, taking a walk in the countryside, enjoying a cup of mocha latte with your morning coffee, or dancing in my living area to progressive electronic music.
I made sure to complete at least three of the things I wanted to do each day. At least I completed at most three. This simple habit made me happier over a couple of days.
Of course, you’ll first have to create your own list of “joys,” but once you have it, it’s a wonderful tool to bring more joy into your daily life.
2. Do one thing to trigger the “helper’s high.”
One act of kindness each day was another factor that greatly impacted my mood.
I’d read about happiness and the science behind it, and knew I could help others. There’s even a specific term for it: the “helper’s high.”
I began asking myself every morning, “What’s one act of kindness I will do today?”
Since I don’t always feel creative first thing in the morning, I made a list of fifteen acts of kindness ideas that I could choose from. Like my list of “joys,” they aren’t complicated. They include writing a nice comment on someone’s Tik Tok video, posting an uplifting quote on Facebook, and complimenting someone.
It made me feel happier to do this single thing each day. But in case you don’t feel inspired to do one act of kindness a day, here’s another idea.
Another thing I started doing recently, which I learned from Tim Ferriss’s book Tools for TitansThis is Chade-Meng Tan’s ten second loving-kindness exercise. He created it to help employees learn mindfulness and emotional intelligence. Find Yourself.
This is a very straightforward exercise: Choose two people from your life and make secret wishes for them to feel happy. You don’t have to do or say anything—just think, “I wish you to be happy,” with a sincere intention from your heart.
The ten second loving-kindness exercise is very therapeutic, as well as doing one act each day of kindness. They take our focus away from our problems and increase our sense of connection to others, even when the act of kindness is anonymous, and we don’t physically interact with the person.
3. For your social circle to flourish, you can do just one thing every single day.
I was slow to recognize that isolation had a negative impact on my mental health. I’m an introvert and enjoy my own company. It wasn’t obvious that my desire to eat more ice cream than usual and my lack of motivation to get out of bed in the morning had something to do with spending It is too manyOnly time.
In the midst of the pandemic’s height, for weeks I didn’t speak to anyone except Zoom clients and cashiers at grocery stores. The more I was alone, the less I desired to be around people. It became too daunting to socialize, so I decided not to go out (alone) as much.
However, it was killing my insides. Before the depression I felt inside grew, I needed to get out of the isolation pattern.
Although I was small in my initial steps, I did something each day to revitalize my social life.
One day, I commented on an acquaintance’s Facebook post. A second day I messaged my friend via Messenger. A friend suggested that we have lunch together the week after, so I did.
It is important to nurture friendships in order for them to thrive and grow.
So, perhaps you can ask yourself every day, “What’s one thing I can do today to nurture and expand my social circle?”
There were other ways I brought joy into my daily life over the past months. For example, learning the djembe (a new hobby) and attending weekly social events. These three steps made the greatest impact on my long-term well-being.
How do you feel inspired and alive? Share with us in the comments so we can all benefit from each other’s wisdom.
About Emilie Pelletier
Emilie is certified as a purpose and life coach and meditation instructor. She also works as a spiritual entrepreneur. She helps free-spirited minds to clarify their soul’s purpose, find their calling, and transform their work into play. You can get her free guide, “The Life Purpose Formula: The Easiest Way to Uncover Your Purpose and Calling,” or connect with her through her website ConsciousOriginals.com.
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Tiny Buddha’s post How to Reclaim Joy after the Pandemic: Three Things that Helped me appeared first on Tiny Buddha.