I am trying so hard to follow a former professor’s advice, to “act your way into a new way of thinking.” I have been frozen these past few weeks, feeling like even the smallest task is akin to pulling a bag full of boulders through the desert. I’m trying to be gentle with myself- we are in the midst of a global pandemic and some pretty crazy times, after all…but it’s hard. I am a go-go-go person, but my mental go-go-go apparently got up and went.
Back to the ‘acting your way’ concept…I love this idea of adding actions into your daily life that are proven to lead you to your goals. It’s not ‘fake it until you make it’; this is different. This is striving to build the set of consistent behaviors that will lead you to your goal. I did this with weight loss; I began to do the things that healthy and fit people do with diet and exercise each day, developing new habits, and the pounds came off. So, if I want to be joyful, I need to do the things that joyful people do every day.
Sounds simple enough, but putting the plan into action isn’t always easy when the world is chaotic and gives you so many reasons to be stressed. And, when we’re stressed, holding onto what is comforting and easy is our first inclination. Change is hard, pandemic or no. What’s a stressed out gal who is determined to find joy to do?
I’ve decided to look for joy in bits and pieces. Every day I’ll do what joyful people do, reminding myself of the many wonderful things in my life, of the good in people. I’ll look for small moments of beauty around me; the song of my favorite warbler, a flower’s dewy bloom, a sunset over the city, walking with Marley on the trail, the look of love in Dan’s sweet brown eyes. There are so many things to be joyful about that we’ll never see on the evening news. Once we nurture and solidify the habit of looking for joy each and every day, finding the good in any situation, joy becomes a part of the fabric of who we are.
It’s not a perfect science, but I know from experience that it will work for me. I’m ready for the fog to lift, to feel like myself again, even amidst the madness of Covid-19. Being joyful doesn’t mean we won’t have off days, that bad things won’t happen to us or to the world around us; it only means that we have an anchor built deep inside of us that prevents us from sliding into the dark pool of despair. It helps us to hold onto the good the beauty that are always around us, just sometimes obscured by our reaction to the ugliness in the world.
I challenge you to join me in finding your own joy in bits and pieces. We can make our world a better place, starting with what we can control- ourselves, just one small step at a time. And if we do…just watch how that joy spreads.