March 7, 2022

Is It Okay to Be Happy in the Midst of a Pandemic, War & Pervasive Social Injustice?


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The news of the world has been coming at us at rapid-fire speed for the past six years, since the 2016 election.

Even with wearing the metaphorical, emotional flak jacket, and our ability to dodge, weave, and duck for cover, many of us are left feeling like shrapnel is embedded in every fabric of our being. I hear it from my family and friends, I hear it from the clients in my therapy practice, I hear it on NPR and watch it on newscasts. It blasts through my social media pages—it is unavoidable. I live in the gap between wanting to be informed and not wanting to be flattened by what I read and hear. As an empath, I soak up energy like a sponge. I need to wring it out or stay out of the puddles on occasion.

I pray that peace prevails, although there was never a time in human history that there was extended peace. What is it about human nature that has people battling it out for supremacy, when ultimately what one person does affects the entirety of the planet? I heard an interview on NPR yesterday, in which a military strategist with years of experience said he didn’t think Putin would resort to launching nuclear weapons since he has children and grandchildren. I pray that he is right, since I have them, too. I want a healthy and safe future for the generations that follow. Do tyrants and warmongers think about that when perpetrating violence? Apparently not.

I have also been struggling spiritually and having numerous “Godversations” daily, in which I get feisty and ask how She/He/It could allow this to happen. The only answer I get is that it is not up to an omnipotent being to fix things that us humans broke. It is up to us to put the pieces back together, and not break hearts, bodies, minds, and objects in the first place. This is why we can’t have nice things.

As I experience the helplessness, I do what I can. Today, I brought supplies such as bandages, diaper wipes, tooth brushes, toothpaste and first aid kits to a friend’s store who is collecting them to have them shipped to the refugee centres across the border. I picked up packets of sunflower seeds from another local business to plant in my yard in symbolic support. I send prayers of protection, and the intention that this war will be over and lives will be spared. Taking action yields positive results.

Living in my safe neighbourhood where no bombs are falling, where I can walk or drive without fear of the police, where I feel comfortable strolling alone in my development, where I am free to let my voice be heard, makes me think about others who can’t do those things. My heart is with them, and I do my best not to feel guilty.

In the midst of the chaos, comes Act Happy Week, which falls on March 20-26. Its purpose is to remind us that happiness is hardwired and an essential nutrient. It touts the health benefits of being happy even in the midst of challenges such as those we are facing now. If you could experience Vitamin H (for happiness) on a day-to-day basis, imagine the benefits your life could yield. You may experience:

>> Deeper relationships

>> Improved health

>> Decreased anxiety and depression

>> Changes in your relationship with substances

>> Showing love for the person in the mirror

>> Greater success in your career

>> Motivation to make positive changes

Is it acceptable for me to enjoy time with family and friends when so many people in Ukraine are torn apart from theirs? Is it okay for me to look around my comfortable home when so many are fleeing theirs and may not be able to return? Can I, without guilt, plan for a future that, while it is uncertain, still affords me relative confidence that I will be okay?

As much as I don’t have the answer to the political quagmire Putin has created, I know that my happiness doesn’t preclude grieving over what is happening a world away. I can straddle the two realms. A dose of happiness can strengthen me to do what must be done.

It’s even okay to indulge in a pampering pedicure.


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