After a year filled with natural disasters, unemployment, political and civil unrest, supply shortages, illness, quarantines, and death, I’d never seen so many people looking forward to a new year than in 2020. However, 2021, so far, has seemed to say, “2020, hold my beer.” Are we in for round two or the next level of Jumanji? Or maybe, it’s as some has speculated, the opening of the Hunger Games.
Whether we are or not, there comes a point where it can all become overwhelming and one needs to take a break. If life and reality is so heavy that all one can think of is despair and feel sadness, it is time to create an avenue of happiness, hope, and light in one’s life. Here are some ways to bring some daily joy into your life.
- TikTok. It just isn’t for kids anymore. If you don’t want to create videos, just watch those that do and enjoy the fun they bring to life. Try the dance challenges or play one of the practical jokes on a close friend with a good sense of humor. Enjoy the many artists and musicians that are on the platform. Learn to cook a new meal or about a new culture. Find new books to read or meet your favorite author on a Livestream. Make new friends. There have been some who have even found love there.
- Collecting. Begin a new collection. For many, collecting has a connotation of being a boring, dull, or introverted person. And objects collected have been thought of as being limited to art, stamps, rocks, leaves, dolls, and insects. However, anything can be collected. A good friend of mine who loves coffee collects mugs. It is a small way she inserts a bit of happiness into the beginning of her morning by pouring in her first cup of java. I recently met a group of people who collect Mini Brands. Granted, these things are as cute as the dickens. I’d walked past the surprise balls for over a year, never having noticed. Then, I saw a video of someone opening one and became hooked on the cuteness. There’s a whole community that collects and trades these. Some of the Mini Brand collectors have styled mini-kitchens and displays, while others have converted them to refrigerator magnets and jewelry. Another person stated that she collected eye shadow palettes. Some she uses, while others she displays.
- Family time. Unfortunately, many people have been furloughed, laid off, or had a reduction in hours. Others, who may still be working from home. Believe it or not, there are positives and negatives in this. A friend who now works from home admitted that although it was complicated at first and took some adjustment, she enjoys not having the mad rush in the mornings to get ready for work or her children off to school. She confessed that she has been able to save money by not eating out for lunch, not spending money on wardrobes and gas, not having to attend conferences or pay for school trips, and not paying for daycare services. Since she commuted to work, she spent over an hour each way driving. Now, she spends that extra time with family. She confessed that she always wanted to be a stay-at-home mother but couldn’t afford it. However, now she is able to have the best of both worlds. Although it isn’t perfect, she is enjoying the time she has while it lasts. She and her family have created new routines. They all participate in making dinner and find creative and fun ways to make cleaning (and other household chores) a game. They have found time to bond and grow closer as a family. Another friend who was furloughed stated that he despised his job but didn’t have the nerve to quit for fear of what he would do to support himself. He was eventually laid off, but he found another job that he is much happier at doing as well as starting a business that he has always dreamed of doing.
- New skills. As mentioned previously, many people have found themselves with extra time. Learn something new. A colleague who was planning to get married in 2020 postponed her wedding due to the pandemic and issues with venues and vendors. At first, she was very upset by this and confessed that she cried for weeks. Then, one day as she was watching videos on YouTube, she began getting new wedding design ideas. Later, she saw a DIY project that she wanted to try as centerpieces. Soon, she found herself creating decorations for her wedding that not only is she having fun creating but that also is saving herself money. A coworker reported that she took a page from the movie Julie & Julie. She’s always wanted to learn to cook, and she’s taken this time to do just that.
- Increased awareness. This came from my bestie and was a shock to me. I don’t know why since it’s basic. My bestie stated that when shelter-at-home regulations happened, he began to go stir crazy with such a disruption of his life. He’s truly a man on the go. However, once he became limited in where he could go and things he could do, he stated that he became more aware of his surroundings. He began to notice things in his neighborhood and community that he hadn’t previously. One of the most interesting things he said was the following. “When I purchased my home, one of the selling points was the backyard and view. As time passed, it just became a part of my every day, and I overlooked its beauty. I’d never enjoyed it fully. Being home all the time made me feel a bit stir crazy. One day, I took a book outside and read it beneath an oak in my backyard. It was so peaceful, and the weather nice. I wondered why I’d never done that before. I ordered a hammock from Amazon, and now, it’s one of my favorite places to relax, think, read, and meditate.”
- Pampering self. Roll the clock back to the fall of 2019 when the world had no clue what was looming around the corner. I had begun making plans for the 2020 football season as well as vacation. In December that year, I planned the items I would need. I decided that each month, I would purchase a few of these items to spread the expense over several months and prevent having to rush at the last minute. In February, when talks of a lockdown began, I didn’t believe it. In March, when it actually happened, I thought it would last only a couple of days. Therefore, I continued planning for my vacations and activities. By the time I realized they weren’t going to happen, I regarded what I had amassed and sulked. I had wasted my money. Or had I? Vacations are about relaxing and escape from the normal world. I wouldn’t call a pandemic being my “normal world;” although, I will admit that it has shaped me a new normal. However, just because my vacation plans had changed didn’t mean that I had to chunk all my ideas. I would just have to find ways to use the items at home and pamper myself. Fortunately, many of the items were skincare and perfumes. Who says one must have an audience in order to be smell nice or have clear skin? I also played with makeup that I had purchased in ways that I wouldn’t normally for work. For example, I had an opportunity to experiment with colorful looks instead of neutrals. Because work has been slower, I’ve found more time to read and watch television series that I’ve missed out on. And instead of feeling I’m missing out on being out with friends, I find soaking in a long bath or giving myself a facial isn’t a bad substitute. We’ve even had a few cyber girls’ nights in which were truly fun, and in all honesty, may have been more fun than actually being out, where parking is a hassle and some people can be real jerks. No matter why it occurred, taking time to do something positive for oneself is never a bad thing.
- Neighborhood book libraries. Until recently, I never knew these were a thing. For a couple of years, I’ve bypassed one in the downtown area but mistook it for decoration. It’s shaped like a house. And although it is clearly labeled as a book library exchanged, the words didn’t resonate with me. These are a great way to bring happiness into your and someone else’s life. For one, I hate the thought of throwing a book away. It seems like a waste. The public library system in my immediate area is, in my opinion, under horrible management. In the past, it has been proven that they throw away book donations without considering what they are, are rude to patrons, and act in ways that are most convenient for staff but not borrowers. For example, they keep the restrooms locked because children have not kept the area clean. There are two stalls in both the men’s and women’s restrooms. However, libraries in surrounding areas that have triple the daily traffic, restrooms with a half dozen stalls on each floor, and the same number of staff (percentage-wise), they keep their restrooms both unlocked and clean. But that’s a story for another time. The point is, neighborhood libraries offer communities a place to share books without the complications of library cards, due dates, or the fear donations will go straight to the trash. I will, however, point out that some public libraries feel threatened by the neighborhood libraries and have made partitions to the local government to place restrictions and limitations on neighborhood libraries.
- Music. Since the beginning of time, people have found solace in music. It is an easy way to relax, and with so many genres, a person most assuredly can find something he/she enjoys. When I was younger and suffered from migraines frequently, loud thumping music (I know. One would think I would seek silence.) would ease the pain away. Maybe the drumbeats vibrated out the pain. The entertainment industry has long used music to set moods and increase the ambiance. Injecting happy music throughout one’s day can lift the spirits and bring inspiration.
- Breaks. Then again, sometimes all that is needed is a break and time away. Media can be toxic, bringing into our homes and living rooms negative energy and bad news on a loop. The week after Christmas, the local media kept harping on severe weather that would occur on New Years Day. During nearly every commercial break it seemed, there was the news commercial to watch for the latest update of the weather at five, six, and ten. And while I’m all for people to be informed, I could have done without the constant reminder of what was to come. And dread was building. At the gas station, people were filling up gas cans for their generators. People planned to hunker down instead of attempting to have at least some type of New Year celebration, even if it was no more than grape juice in a plastic cup in the middle of the kitchen. On New Year’s Eve, there was rain (heavy at times) but no wind, thunder, lightning, or tornadoes. No watches or warnings were issued. And while everyone was relieved, the anxiety had built in so many for days. There is a difference between informing the public and inundating them with fear. And I know there will be those who will think it’s no big deal and that the meteorologist simply missed the mark. And would one hundred percent agree with that if I didn’t live in an area where so many people have PTSD from Hurricane Katrina and tornadoes? But the purpose of this point isn’t to place blame on the media. On the contrary, it is to point out that people need to recognize in themselves those things that are begin trigged and tune them out. Shut off all of social media and chill. There was a news article of a man who had isolated himself in a remote area for over a year. There were no cell phones, cable, or internet. When he left to return home, he had no idea of the pandemic. He’d not panicked, stressed, or been bothered.
- Great books. Of course, as an author, I’m going to end by saying a great way to bring happiness to any day is to curl up with not just a good book but, rather, a great one. And why not read something from an author you’ve never tried. During the holidays, I know I stocked my Kindle with new reads. Having a favorite go-to author that will never fail you is wonderful. But when I travel, I know I like to try new things and new adventures. If I’m going to always do the same-o same-o, why not remain at home?