Just as we know for sure that the sun rises and sets each day, that taxes and death are inevitable, we know there’ll be times in our lives when things don’t go the way we expected. How to find joy in hard times?
We get lulled into a sense of peace as we go through life, tackling our routines, more or less managing our mental, emotional and physical health. Then out of the blue there’s a shock that lands right in our laps. And right now is one of those times when we’re forced to stay home to stay safe.
It is true that we don’t really go looking for information about how to deal with our happiness—d’uh, right? We tend to look around wondering only when we have a series of lows and can’t seem to handle them.
The pandemic today, for instance, is affecting the world in unexpected ways. We live in troubled times. Essential supplies are hard to come by as we do our best to follow protocol. As we face the fear of the unknown, isolation and sometimes grief and loss, it is easy for us to lose our joy and inch towards depression.
We cannot control what happens outside our door. But we can control ourselves. There are many things we can do to stay positive and even maintain a joyful mindset.
How do we find joy in hard times?
I am focusing on doing the following three basic things to keep myself sane and find joy.
1. Surrounding myself with the right people
“We are the sum total of the five people we surround ourselves with.”
How often have we heard that? Ancient wisdom. But it is true you know. When we make sure we have the right people around us, especially when we hit a rough patch, it is easier to find joy in hard times. When life hands us a raw deal, we tend to withdraw into ourselves and build a wall around us. We want to wallow in our misery. We want to be left alone.
Sure, this solitude can help but only for so long. We need to set a time frame to gather our thoughts and allow our cheerleaders to bring us back to our happy place.
Right now, during this period of forced isolation, all the “me” time can be good. But don’t take so much me time that you are robbed of your joy. Connect with your loved ones who simply won’t allow you to be unhappy.
I must mention here that sometimes, avoiding toxic people can be tough. Negative people must be kept out of our lives when we are already struggling to find joy in hard times.
Fortunately, we can stay home, stay safe and stay connected via WhatsApp, Face Time, Skype, Zoom, and other video calling, Phone calls, Emails, Texts, and if it comes to it, good old letter writing. Yep, scan and share the images. Charming, right?
2. Remembering that nothing is permanent
“This too shall pass”
Am I right? Nothing is permanent in life. We live in dynamic situations. So these hard times—these too shall pass.
When we are happy, we hardly stop to think that the situation might be temporary. We don’t dwell on the things around us that are short-lived.
Yet, keeping this fact of life in mind during the times we feel low can be useful especially when we are trying to find joy in hard times. Whatever we go through, no matter how terrible it might feel, it WILL pass.
I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but there have been really tough times in my life that managed to settle themselves without much effort on my part. It is easy to assume that we must freak out and do something drastic to make the bad things go away. But most of the time, not doing anything will result in resolution, too.
Let me give you an example. There was this time during my corporate days when I shared an office with another group company. It did not help that I was the only woman sales person in the office and was doing very well. I was regional head for the company I represented and the other group company’s regional head was a narrow-minded guy who tried to make life tough for me at every opportunity. Sometimes he resorted to petty things like hiding my telephone messages, unplugging the fax machine or telephone or hiding my mail.
I did freak out initially wondering how I was going to manage as I was out on sales call all day, but I quickly calmed down and carried on with my job as usual. My results spoke for themselves. Eventually, the head of the group visited our office and sorted things out. I received an apology.
Sometimes, Time is the only healer of difficult life situations. We must remember that our situation is not how things are—but that they are like this only at this moment. This too shall pass. Yes, it needs patience to find joy in hard times. But also, yes, it works.
3. Holding the key to my own happiness
As I said earlier, life will present us with ups and downs and nothing really lasts forever—and this brings us to the most important thing to remember, both during good and bad times.
If we want to find joy consistently, we must not allow it to be dictated by our circumstances.
Imagine how it would be if we allowed ourselves to shoot up to cloud 9 every time something great happened and dived into the abyss every time something terrible happened! We would constantly be on an emotional roller coaster. It is important to try and stay calm and remember that we can control ourselves, our reactions and create sustainable joy on our own. We do hold the key to our happiness, you know.
All kinds of things will happen in life. We have no control over that. But we can control how we react. And how we react is what life is all about. We are in charge of how we feel.
What are your thoughts on how to find joy in hard times?
Please do share in the comments.