There are many things that you can do, even in the midst of dire circumstances, that will alleviate suffering and steer you toward joy. The following practices, when used consistently, will allow you to feel joy through even the toughest conditions.
Take a Broader View
What you are experiencing now may be uncomfortable, but it is not the end of your story. Rather than focusing on your current level of discomfort, take a broader view. Ask yourself the following:
- Who do you want to become through the difficulty?
- What character qualities and values would you like to enhance during this period?
- If you would like to be a positive person, can you find the little miracles hidden in each day?
- If you would be more loving, can you offer greater compassion to others?
Challenging times, when paired with intention, can serve as a catalyst for personal transformation.
Give to Those with Greater Need Than Yourself
Fred Rogers from the Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood tv show once said, “When I was a little boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”
In times of collective fear and need, you can liberate yourself from your problems by serving others. How do you serve during a quarantine? Try these options.
- Call to check in on a neighbor
- Offer to pick up groceries for a friend
- Send virtual cards
- Make soup for the elderly
- Leave birthday posters on the doorstep of local children
- Send videos to teachers
Even giving in small ways will fill your own cup with joy.
Reevaluate Your Priorities
Since many of your usual activities have been suspended, it is a great time to reassess which ones were adding value to your life and which ones were simply time fillers. It is easy to get roped into book clubs, classes, and obligations that feel more like chores than self-care. Quarantine offers a unique opportunity to reevaluate which activities you would like to reintegrate, and which are best left off the to-do list. Ask yourself which things you miss, and which are a relief to let go of.
Stay in the Present
Spiritual teacher, Eckhart Tolle, summed up the value of living in the present moment, “Unease, anxiety, tension, stress, worry—all forms of fear—are caused by too much future, and not enough presence. Guilt, regret, resentment, grievances, sadness, bitterness, and all forms of non-forgiveness are caused by too much past, and not enough presence.”
There are no real problems in the present moment, only situations that require a response. By living only this day, you free yourself of the regrets of the past and anxieties of the future. Carpe diem! Live this day well for it is the only one that you really have.
During times of darkness, sources of light become even more important. What are your sources of light, those things that lighten your load and encourage you? Are there people, books, online classes, TED talks, YouTube videos, or documentaries that lift your spirits and raise your energy vibration?
Each day make a point to integrate at least three things that inspire you. If you can space these inspirational touchpoints throughout the day, you will optimize your emotional well-being as well as productivity. Think of inspiration as “food for your mood.”
Maintain Your Connections
Humans are social beings. Since the beginning of recorded time, people have lived in villages, communities, and family groups. Within each person, there is a very deep-seated nudge toward connection.
Social distancing has the potential to create an inner conflict, with the logical part of the brain in favor and the reptilian brain against. Yet, social distancing does not have to create isolation, loneliness, and social disconnection. It is important to stay connected through virtual platforms such as texts, FaceTime, Zoom, and online meetings/classes/services.
Double Your Gratitude
You may have lost your job, but you still have your house. The grocery store may not be well-stocked, but you still have food. You might be inconvenienced, but you still have your health. The mind is fertile soil with seeds of panic, uncertainty, and fear scattered in equal proportion to seeds of kindness, beauty, and blessings. Whichever seeds you water with your attention will grow and produce fruit. During challenging times, the seeds of fear are watered through media outlets, making it even more imperative for you to water the seeds of gratitude.
Become a gratitude detective. On a daily basis, look for all the things in your life that you can be grateful for, no matter how trivial, and consciously give thanks.
Each person is viewing the COVID-19 pandemic through their own lens. That lens has been created through life experiences, cultural conditioning, social norms, self-work, and spiritual practices. No two lenses are the same. As people process the changes, fears, and uncertainties that accompany the current state of global affairs, you will see a gamut of emotions, from anger and anxiety to love and support. These emotions reflect each person’s lens.
Instead of feeling upset with someone for not seeing through your lens, endeavor to remain grounded as you hold space for them to see through their own. The practice of compassion is a call to gently allow others to experience life without your judgment.
Movement creates endorphins. Endorphins relieve pain and stress. Has there ever been a better time for stress relief?
Quarantine is not a time to give up your exercise regime. In fact, it may be an opportunity to explore a new one. From hiking, biking, yoga, and rebounding to kettle balls, dumbbells, tension bands, and bodyweight exercises, the universe has extended an invitation for you to spice up your workouts. Why not take up a new exercise this month? Who knows, you might even find that it is one you would like to keep.
Life is going to look different for a while, but different doesn’t mean bad. Think of this period as an opportunity to explore new physical, mental, and spiritual tools. Quarantine might just be a blessing after all.
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