Happiness is an Inside Job

(March 24)

“Becoming isn’t about arriving somewhere or achieving a certain aim. I see it instead as forward motion, a means of evolving, a way to reach continuously toward a better self. The journey doesn’t end.” – Michelle Obama

How have you been dealing amidst the chaos of Coronavirus / COVID-19?

I have struggled off and on. Struggling mainly with a scarcity mindset. This sent me into a tizzy, somewhat of an emotional tailspin as it relates to shortages of toilet paper in stores. I admit I thought people were a little nutty when they were buying everything and hoarding things and then lo and behold I got down to three rolls of toilet paper in my house and just felt like it was a desperate time. I will say that my call out on social media for toilet paper was met with much grace and generosity. Many family and friends offered to give us toilet paper – which was great, I thought I was going to have to be cutting paper towel rolls in half and making my own baby wipes. But alas, the heavens opened up and I found a pack of Angel Soft at our local grocery store – truly a gift from the angels. I was very grateful for this small favor and I won’t have to start using leaves from my backyard when nature calls. All that to say that these crazy times are trying for all of us…I usually consider myself a pretty mentally and emotionally strong person but have really been struggling off and on.

I originally wrote the post below when things were first starting to get cancelled –  the NCAA tournaments got cancelled and I got to thinking about what we can control in life and so I do still think that the below is applicable but certainly now even a few weeks later we are in much different circumstances in the world than we were in the middle of March. It’s hard to know how to address the COVID crisis as a wellness professional but at least try your best to stay healthy, keep moving your body, and try to get some fresh air when you can.

(March 13)

In uncertain times it can be a struggle to remain joyful (even though there is still a lot to be grateful and joyful for) and happy.

Happiness has to come from within. From your own thoughts, your own feelings, your own actions. That is all you have control over. You don’t control the weather, the current state of the world, or the outcome of your efforts. All you control are your attitude, your effort, and your response to situations and events.

If you participate in any type of sport you know this to be true. You can practice for weeks, months, years but the outcome of your chosen event is ultimately out of your control. If you’re a runner and the weather is crappy on race day, you trip on a pothole, or your race is cancelled due to COVID-19 these things are all out of your control. What you do control is your effort and preparation for that event whether it happens or not. Did you show up every day to practice? Did you complete every run or workout you had planned? Did you stretch or foam roll consistently? These things are within your control. The fact that you put forth your best effort and show up consistently are what happiness and success are made of.

Sure, it’s disappointing if COVID-19 causes your vacation to get cancelled. But research shows that the anticipation of an event often causes greater happiness than the event itself. And know that there will be other vacations.

So, in these trying and troubling times what is there to be thankful for when school is cancelled, events are cancelled, and we have to wash our hands a thousand times more than we used to (even though we should’ve been hand-washing more frequently anyway)?

Gratitude is a powerful tool we have in our happiness toolboxes and can be called up no matter where we are or what is going on the world. Did the sun come out this morning? Did you get to eat at least 1 meal today? Do you have friends and family who care for you? What about a hot shower? Socks and shoes to put on your feet? How about a book to read or a show to binge watch? Are you breathing? Things don’t have be big, significant, or important to make us grateful for them or to bring us joy.

What are you doing in this crazy, mixed up, COVID-19-ridden world to cultivate more happiness and joy?

And more importantly –

What are you doing to share your joy and happiness with others and lift them up when they might need it the most?

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