This last week, my accountant called me just to check-in and see how I’m doing. I told her, “I’m good. The sun is shining, my taxes are paid, and real estate seems to be picking up again.” We discussed how things are going in her life and she confessed that a couple of weeks ago she was pretty freaked out, but she needed to keep working, so she kept her head down and focused on her work. Today she’s doing much better though. I seem to be hearing that a lot these days as the initial shock and fear seems to have subsided for most people.
Often, when a crisis hits, we are tempted to forgo joy and focus our attention only on dealing with the problem at hand. We rely on grit and tenacity to help us push through the difficulty and get to the other side. This is our way of coping.
I’m no different than my accountant. That first week after the mayor shut down the city, I focused on what changes needed to be made to our real estate business so it would survive and how we would get all our clients’ home sales closed on time. To be honest, it was hard to find joy during that difficult time, but joy doesn’t need to stop in tough moments, and in fact, we’re usually better off if we allow a little joy into our struggle. Positive emotions play an important role in resilience. They provide relief from stress, allowing our bodies and minds a moment to recover.
I’ve read many articles about maintaining a positive mindset in difficult moments, but often they’re loaded with verbiage like “find a silver lining” or “remember things could always be worse.” While those are good things to keep in mind, I’m more interested in things we can actually do to find more joy in the struggle. With this in mind, here are my suggestions.
DRESS UP. When the “stay at home order” began, I know a lot of you probably just rolled around the house in your PJ’s or sweats. Maybe I’m weird, but for the first week, I continued to dress like I was heading to work every day. I guess I just needed to feel some sort of normalcy in my life and I couldn’t stay focused while wearing sweats. It would feel like I’m taking the day off. I know of a family that decided to have a formal dinner at home. Everyone dressed up nicely, they set the table with the fine china and lit the candles to create a happy environment, and had a wonderful meal together. Yesterday I thought about wearing a Hawaiian shirt around the house just to get a laugh from my wife.
MAKE SOMEONE ELSE LAUGH. I think sometimes I embarrass my wife with this one because I’m the weirdo that talks to total strangers when we go to the grocery store. I’m always looking for something funny to say just to make them smile. People look so freaked out these days and somehow it’s even worse when everyone is wearing a mask, so I guess I feel like it’s my duty to make people laugh a little. Making someone else laugh makes me feel good.
THROW A PARTY. We often put off celebrating even routine events in a difficult time, saying to ourselves that we’ll celebrate once we get through it, but seeing friends and family can lift our spirits. I realize during our current situation we can’t actually get together in person, but many families are having Zoom parties. My wife used Facebook Messenger to get together with family members last week. She had people on the call that lived in Missouri, Arkansas, California, and Illinois. I asked her, “I wonder why you never thought about doing that prior to this Coronavirus situation?” The technology was there before, but I suppose they just never thought about it. I was working in my home office and I heard my wife laughing in the kitchen while on the call. I know it lifted her spirits that day. I’ve also spoken with friends that have attended a Zoom wedding, had Zoom birthday parties for their grandkids, and even Zoom happy hours.
I hope this has given you some ideas to bring a little joy into your life. I’d love to hear what you are doing to amuse yourself these days.