What do you do during challenging times? How do you find your joy when the world around you appears to be falling apart?
I consider my ability to keep perspective and find the light during difficult times to be one of my superpowers. I have to be honest; I’ve been struggling the last week or two. It’s not that I’m unhappy, it’s more like I can’t tap into life’s joys like I normally can. I’ve found myself feeling overwhelmed with emotion at the state of the world and the struggles people around the planet have been facing. My midlife awakening has had me leaning into my feelings and the discomfort that comes with the leaning for years now.
Today I made the decision to dive deeper into exploring my emotions and, more importantly, into how what I’m doing or not doing is serving me. For good or for bad.
What occurred to me today was what’s going on in Ukraine has felt like a tipping point in my mind. The conflict happening there and elsewhere has made it feel like there is more darkness and evil in the world than lightness and good. Logically, I know that’s not true. Knowing there is more love than hate in the world doesn’t make it easier when our mind is feeling the trauma. As caring and empathetic humans, it’s in our nature to feel the pain of others, sometimes as much as we feel our own.
Personally, I’ve been feeling bad, even when I’m feeling good. I’ve felt conflicted about celebrating anything when so many don’t have their basic needs met and safety in their lives. It’s like I lost some of my light over the last while. It all feels hard, and I observed my cup overflowing. I found myself not embracing what I work with so many clients on. I drifted from my own practice of what I know is healthy for my mind, body, and soul. Then I found the re-alignment of perspective I needed, at the exact time I needed it. I love it when that happens.
That shift was inspired by listening to a vulnerable conversation between Brené Brown and her friend and author, Karen Walrond, on the topic of ‘accessing joy and finding connection in the midst of struggle’. Their chat provided the motivation to re-embrace those practices that served me well in the past. I was reminded how incredibly important it is to ensure we practice self-care consistently, not just when we’re struggling. Self-care must be prioritized and come first. Always.
Let’s face it, self-care practices that feed and strengthen us are often the first to go when our schedule gets tight. It’s critical we put ourselves first and fight the urge to put us last when the going gets tough. For me, those practices include daily gratitude acknowledgments, journaling, connecting with family and friends, healthy eating and exercise, and a media break. The latter is especially important as I find watching too much (bad) news can shake my faith in humanity, be overwhelming, and leave me feeling hopeless. Seeking out good news is always helpful. Sometimes we need to dig deep to find it.
I also gained a couple of tips on how to build on the resiliency practices in my toolbox.
I also gained a couple of tips on how to build on the resiliency practices in my toolbox. A daily joy practice, for one. It can be different from a gratitude ritual. It’s about recognizing those moments of joy and how they influence and add to the happiness in our lives. It may be as simple as looking back at your photos for those moments of joy you captured last week, last month, last year, or further back. Feel the emotions you felt at those times and tap into that joy. I was reminded what a simple walk can do for my soul and the joy I feel when looking at the beautiful scenery around me, the happiness of a dog enjoying a game of fetch (I’m a sucker for a joyful dog romping), or how the warmth of a sunny day can shift my mood.
Finally, three daily questions as a practice for myself can help me refocus on what’s important and how I can rediscover the joy in both my world and the one at large.
First, how can I feel connected today? Even if I don’t feel like physically connecting with my people in person, I can reach out over text or phone. If I’m feeling all the feels, others likely are too and will welcome the connection themselves
Second, how can I feel healthy today? Even if I’m not motivated to do a formal exercise routine, how can I include some movement that will make my body happier? What can I eat that will fuel me better?
Third, how can I be purposeful today? That is such a wide-open question. It can be as simple as becoming more knowledgeable on something that’s important to me through reading or watching a documentary, or as big as showing up in a meaningful way for a cause I believe in.
Me? Today I’m going to download Karen Walrond’s book, Manifesto: How to Work for Change Without Losing Your Joy, and discover more ways to be purposeful, reclaim my light, and enjoy the happiness in the world around me.
If you’re searching for your own inspiration, go check out the Brené and Karen podcast. It’s 35:40 minutes of your day that you’ll be glad you took.
Peace, love, and joy, my friends. Until next time, be kind to each other and to yourself.