After the Manner of Happiness
A story is told of a family who left their homeland to seek a new start, in a far off place. Upon arriving in this new land, and as a result of infighting, one group broke off from the other and roamed even further. When they finally settled down, they worked together to build up the place. And after a time, they realized that through their hard work, patience, and perseverance, they didn’t need to go any further. They were living “after the manner of happiness”.
I’ve been pondering this story today. For most of the world, the past couple of weeks have been a little on the crazy side. We’ve suddenly gone from commuting, to working from home. And from an economic boom to a soon-to-be economic bust. We’ve gone from getting a little bit at a time, to hoarding and panic. Suddenly fearful of the future, to living for today because we don’t know what tomorrow will bring. As I’ve been going through some of these same things, I started wondering this morning, what can I do to live after the manner of happiness, while sheltering in place? Here are some things I’ve come up with.
- Continue to practice your faith culture, or spirituality, whatever that may be. For me, that means daily devotional time, and participating in my faith rituals as I’m able. This keeps me feeling close to God, and brings me peace in the midst of seeming insanity.
- Develop a regular routine. Work set hours, identify and check off tasks as you complete them. Set aside time for house chores – garbage still need emptying, floors still need vacuuming, and dishes still need doing. Exercise as you are able – if you’re allowed outside, go for a walk or play in the backyard. Eat healthy – you will feel better.
- Serve others. Check in regularly with friends and family and neighbors. My family has a continually going chain of text messages. And I do a daily check in via text and Facebook Messenger with my close friends. This helps me feel close to family and friends even though I’m far away, and that there are people who absolutely know what I’m dealing with. Last week I picked up something at the store that one of my neighbors had been unable to find. It was a small thing, but it gave me a good feeling to do that for her.
- Create. For myself that means working on my website and podcast. It means writing my thoughts down and sharing them with you. For others, it could mean taking up baking (if you have the ingredients on hand). Or if you’re my Dad, it means learning woodworking and metalwork. There’s a host of things you can try, and a billion YouTube videos to show you how.
- Positive entertainment. There’s a plethora of disaster movies out there, but personally I’ve had enough disaster this last couple of weeks. Look for something uplifting and/or lighthearted. In the absence of sports, play with your kids. Or, in my case, play with your kitty.
- Limit social media if you can. I know we all want to know what’s going on. And there’s a lot of positive things with social media. But it can also depress us and make us long for things we don’t have access to right now, or make us angry. So use it wisely. For example, a Business Coach I follow on LinkedIn does a live session every morning, and gives tips and encouragement for getting through the day. So I make sure I’m on LinkedIn at that time. I also try to post positive things – a positive quote, a picture of my kitty, or a meal I just made.
- Work. Do right by your company as they do right by you. A lot of companies and people in general are feeling the crunch right now. Some businesses and jobs have already gone south. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be doing everything you can to keep your job, or get your side hustle going. Maintain your integrity and belief in yourself by doing the best you can at whatever job you have.
- And finally, FEAR NOT. I know that’s a tall order sometimes. But we’ve made it through a few thousand years so far, and we’ll get through this one too. Life is meant to have ups and downs. We may be in quite the downer right now, but that means that at some point, things will also be looking up.
So, get after it. Do what you need to do to live after the manner of happiness. When this is all over, you’ll be glad you did.