Finding joy in hard times can seem like an impossible task. As sure as the sun rises and sets each day, there will be periods in your life when things are just not going your way. Life is good, but it’s also hard sometimes. So discovering how to find joy to carry you through life’s ups and downs is vital to living a happy life overall.
Hard Times in the World
One big stress for many–myself included–is world events and problems. They’re just so……BIG!
There’s an analogy that I really like from Thich Nhat Hanh‘s Being Peace:
He talks about how the ability to remain calm is needed in a volatile world and likens it to a small boat crossing the Gulf of Siam.
These boats are often caught in rough waters and people tend to panic. But if one person stays calm and lucid and can get them to do what is needed, they are saved. One such person can save the lives of many.
Our world is something like a small boat, he says.
To me, this does not mean you have to ignore the problems of the world. Keep voting and participating in solutions, by all means! But if you can do so with inner peace and calm, and nurture peace and calmness in your daily life, that’s an additional help.?
Hard Times in Our Personal Lives
On a personal level, fortunately, for the majority of us, most of our time is spent in the fairly even, mundane state of emotional normalcy. Wonderfully ordinary, as I like to call it. ?
The wonderful but ordinary days and moments get broken up by the peaks of “special events,” and unfortunately, the valleys when nothing seems to be going right.
No one really needs help to deal with the best moments of their lives, of course. But handling the lows can be a difficult task.
We live in tumultuous times. A global pandemic, political extremism and turmoil, racism, climate change…it can feel scary and “too big” some days. In those moments there are things you can do to lift yourself up. You can’t always control what happens out there, but you CAN control your inner life. There are things you can do to maintain a positive and even joyful mindset.
In this discussion, we are going to talk about three tips for doing just that.
Surround Yourself With The Right People
It is often said that we are the sum total of the five people we surround ourselves with most often. If that is the case, making sure you get the right people around you, especially when going through a difficult period, is critical to hold on to your joy. When life is tough, we often retreat into the solitude of our home, wanting to throw the covers over our heads.
And honestly, this is not all bad! Retreat and attending to yourself is a good happiness habit. Periods of solitude are healthy and necessary. However, if you find the solitude discomfiting, connecting with those who lift your spirits is called for..
The opposite side of this, of course, is doing your best to avoid people who have a negative effect on you. Negative individuals are especially important to avoid if you are struggling to find your peace and joy. in your current situation. It can be really hard to avoid such people, depending on your circumstance.
Some tips that may or may not apply:
- stay off social media
- cancel outings or events with people that bother you
- if contact cannot be avoided, do not engage in interactions as much as possible
- cut visits or time together short
- use h’oponopono mantra
Many people live far away from loved ones or for a variety of issues, the people that lift you up are not nearby. Thankfully there are many ways to keep in touch, especially if you have access to gadgets. Technology has seen to that:
- Face Time on iPhones and Video calls on Android
- A simple phone call
- Zoom and other video conferencing software can bring together friends and family while staying safe and following health official’s orders.
- Good old-fashioned letter writing
Remember That Nothing Is Permanent
Nothing in life is permanent. When things are good, we may lament this fact, but when things are hard, it’s a blessing! Keeping this truth in mind during the low times can be very beneficial. Whatever you are going through, no matter how bad it may be, it WILL pass.
In fact, most of the difficult times you experience in life will end without any extra effort on your part. It is so easy to get into the mentality that we have to put forth an immense amount of effort to make something bad go away.
Even though this is sometimes the case, most of the time, TIME is the best remedy for tough situations. If you want to maximize your joy during difficult times, remember that your situation is not the way things are, only the way they are RIGHT NOW.
Also, look for things to appreciate. For example, you may be worried about a situation, but then see a bird on a tree branch singing. It’s easy to dismiss such a sight, but if you make a conscious effort and spend a few minutes appreciating the beauty, you’ll enjoy a positive moment in the midst of bigger issues.
Base Your Happiness On Yourself
As discussed, life for most of us is divided into highs and lows. Which brings me to an important idea.
If you want to have joy on a consistent basis, your joy absolutely cannot be dictated by your circumstances.
If you let every good thing that happens to you leave you soaring on cloud nine and every negative situation send you crashing to earth, you will go through life on an emotional roller coaster! Stable, consistent, sustainable joy can only be created and found within yourself.
Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.
– Charles R. Swindoll.
Life is far less about what happens to you than it is how you react to it. You are in charge of how you feel. Don’t fall into the routine of letting happiness get to your head and failure to your heart.
Check out my FREE Happiness is a Choice Guide and Planner or the 30 Day Happiness Challenge for more happiness habits.