Happy Happiness Day, y’all!
March 20th was the International Day of Happiness, according to a resolution by the United Nations.
I don’t know about you, but it seems like a weird time to be celebrating happiness. The stores are all out of toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and paper towels. Costco is out of ketchup and is now selling caskets. I’ve been out of work for almost a month, and I’m pretty sure the freelance company I signed up with is a scam. I broke my kneecap two weeks ago and I can’t take advantage of the beautiful weather we’re having. The President is on television spouting nonsense during the time my soap opera is on. I can’t focus on my meditation practice for more than a minute before the anxiety creeps in. Happiness seems about as out of reach as it’s ever been.
Is that such a big deal? Shouldn’t we be more mindful of avoiding our friends, neighbors, and all strangers than of being happy? Is the pursuit of happiness a worthy goal in the middle of a pandemic?
In a word: yes.
The benefits of happiness are well-documented, but sometimes easily forgotten when times are crazy and anxiety and fear of what’s coming next are all around us.
Here’s a quick reminder of just a few of those many benefits:
>> Happiness feels good. That alone is pretty great!
>> Happiness and positive feelings can help our bodies produce chemicals that boost immunity and reduce stress. What better weapons are there against worry?
>> Happiness and optimism go together. The optimist’s positive expectation of good outcomes helps them manifest those outcomes. After all, we get what we look for.
The key to choosing happiness over stress is the result of mindfulness. We can—and should, especially now—cultivate a practice of happiness.
Here are a few steps to get started:
In his book, Authentic Happiness, University of Pennsylvania psychologist Martin Seligman encourages people to perform a daily “gratitude exercise” involving listing a few things for which they are grateful. This exercise helps shift people away from bitterness and promotes happiness.
Holding a grudge and nursing grievances can have a negative impact on physical and mental health. Forgiveness reduces the power of bad situations to create bitterness and resentment.
These days, this is much easier said than done. It’s critical, though. You can practice meditation, Reiki, rhythmic breathing, yoga, or other relaxation techniques to help lessen anxiety and promote peace of mind and spirit. By learning to recognize and challenge your negative thoughts and feelings, you’ll be better able to challenge them when they pop up.
So, my dear friends, please do celebrate International Day of Happiness, and have a blast doing so. Share a joke, wear a crazy hat, spend a full minute smiling, have a Twinkie, do the Hustle—whatever makes you feel good.
It’s more important than ever, and you are so, so, so worth it.