By now, wherever you live and whoever you are, you have probably heard of covid-19 – also known as the corona virus. The thing kind of decided to waltz on into our lives at the end of 2019, starting by attacking China. It has now moved on to the rest of the world.
I live in Canada, and up till now, I’ve been pretty lucky. It hadn’t reached us or affected my life at all, honestly – until this past month.
Now, the world is in chaos.
Everyone is panicking.
But something I’ve found already in this time is how important it is to try and find happiness despite it all.
Is this me saying that you need to “look on the bright side”? Or “find the silver lining”?
Yes and no.
If you’ve been around since last year, then you probably read my post recapping 2019. (if you didn’t, you can still check that out here 😉) In it, I talked about how my word for 2019 was jump. I wanted to learn to take risks. And though I did, and I got burned, I learned so much and had so many incredible experiences. I hinted at a new word I’d chosen for 2020. I had plans to share is at the end of this year.
But as the world around me dissolves into chaos, I feel that I should share it.
My word for 2020 actually wasn’t just one word.
2020: the year of pure joy.
2019 had been somewhat of a stressful year for me, and I wanted to learn how to appreciate small things. To make my personal happiness a priority. To find joy in the most simple of situations. You can’t have big things happen all the time to make you happy, and I knew that; I had to find happiness in the everyday sort of things.
I tried to do that for the first few months of 2020. I finally was making a lot of progress, actually, at the beginning of March.
Not long later, my life was flipped upside down by covid-19 invading my life.
How do you try to find pure joy when it feels like everything around you has been set on fire? When nothing is stable, and you have no idea what tomorrow will bring?
The reason I really made a breakthrough for my own personal happiness was because I learned how to look at what I needed to do, what goals dictate I should do, and what I wanted to do.
I’ve always been a firm believer in working hard for what you want. For putting the grind to the millstone and doing your 100% best 100% of the time. I would do what I had to do (school and chores, for example) and then I would spend my free time doing what my goals said I should do: I wrote and I blogged. Spending free time on anything else made me feel guilty; I should be working on my goals!
Well, not always.
I am not in any way saying that you should stop working on your goals, or stop doing your best to achieve them.
But sometimes, you also need to let your poor mind relax. If you’re always doing something, then it wears you down. If you read my recap post for 2019, you’ll notice how much writing I did. I remember that, when I wrote it down, I actually was surprised by the amount as well.
But at what cost was it?
I didn’t even keep 2 1/2 drafts worth of writing. That was close to 200k words.
Not only that, but by the end of the year, I was exhausted. I was lost. Have you even seen how many posts I’ve done recently that were prompted by my deep soul searching for my writing? (there’s been a lot)
That could have been avoided.
In a sort of cruel twist of fate, my hard-working spirit has led me to always jump straight into the work – and sometimes, that means doing over things. I forget to slow down and think things through, to do a few important steps… and it causes so much trouble, extra work later, and misery in my work.
What I had to learn was to be able to take a step back, breathe, and do what I wanted sometimes. I could read that book slowly and drink it in instead of devouring it in a weekend, trying to finish it as quickly as possible so I could get back to writing since that’s what I thought I should be doing anyway.
I could watch that show even when I could force myself to do a little more writing.
And I could let myself daydream about anything, and not just think about what I had to.
The freedom to let myself do something fun that I wanted to without feeling guilty about it kind of revolutionized me. I was happy. So, so happy. I was still doing those things that I had to, and I was still working on my writing… but I was working on it with the intent of getting joy out of it. I reached out to try and find the feeling I would get from my writing years ago, instead of the mill-to-the-grindstone one.
And I found it.
I’ve learned, through letting myself do things that make me happy, that I can take writing slow, if that’s what will lead to my best writing and the most joyous and fulfilling journey to that end.
I changed from thinking that I wasting my time to making happiness a priority. If doing that made me happy – not entertained or distracted, but actually happy – then it wasn’t a waste of time.
Another thing that I started doing was, at the end of each day, thinking back over the day and writing down things I was grateful for. All I needed was a notebook and some pens that were different colours (both to tell apart each item I wrote down and since using those pens made me happy).
On one particular Sunday, when things were getting really worrisome, I sat down to write things down, and to my surprise, found a lot more things than I expected to write down. It really showed me that there were still things that I could be happy about despite everything that was happening in the world. Maybe they were just tiny things, like how I had a cup of coffee that morning or listened to a song I liked, but they made me happy. And finding those things brought me joy where there would have been none.
The thing I’ve always heard about being negative and positive is that a person chooses which one they are. It’s the last thing you want to hear when you’re in a bad mood
(“you don’t have to be sad right now; you’re the one making this choice! It’s all your fault! Haha!”) but is something very important when happy situations suddenly aren’t presenting themselves as often.
During this past week, I’ve been worried, tired, sick with a cold, and it all sucks. But something else I’ve been is active in my choices. I’ve been trying to always actively choose to be happy.
Sometimes, that means I’m just cracking a joke to myself in my head, or out loud when I’m alone in the room. Or maybe it means looking at what could be a stressful situation and joking to myself about how much work there is so that I’ll smile. Or maybe that means literally shouting, “I’m going to be happy!” (just ask my family; I’ve aggressively declared that out loud before. The more savagely you say it, the funnier it is, and the happier it makes you)
It’s not always easy to choose to be happy. You sometimes have so many things you have to do that you can’t even choose to do something that you want to. But when you can, it’s worth it. It helps.
This is not my regular kind of post, but I really wanted to try and help in any way I could. I hope that you too can start choosing to be happy.
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How have you been doing during this time of chaos?
How do you like to find happiness?