I have taken a long time to write this blog. Every time I sat down to write something I couldn’t seem to think of a topic or what to say. I mean what do you say that hasn’t already been Facebooked or tweeted or Instagrammed? How many videos can you watch or sayings can you read to make this pandemic go away? We are social animals who thrive on physical and emotional connection, so this social distancing is really hard.
It has only been about 5 weeks since I’ve been quarantined and I have it much easier than others because my son is grown and on his own and so I only have myself to take care of. I had all kinds of plans to finish projects that I had been putting off for, well, years and then I tore a ligament in my ankle. I had to put my foot up and stay put. I mean stationary. For someone who never stops moving that is torture but when you are in the middle of a pandemic it’s definitely a sign from upstairs.
So what was I going to do besides read? I have many books and get the newspaper every day but that doesn’t last all day. Or let’s face it I couldn’t do that all day. Then I came across an online course called The Science of Well Being offered by Yale University. It has become the most popular course in Psychology taught at Yale by a Harvard Ph.D professor. It deals with the scientific study of human behavior and what it takes to make humans happy. That would be scientific. And free of charge.
It includes all of the things that come to mind with happiness such as meditation, savoring, gratitude, kindness, social connection and on and on. I know these things and I tell myself I should make this a daily routine all the time. But then life gets in the way and I start to doubt how all of this will really make me feel. Not mentally but emotionally. Really get in there. I’m good for a while but I have to say I start to forget what my priorities are. I have issues from the past and know it’s not enough to talk about dealing with them. I have to rid myself of the demons that sneak in when I least expect it.
Taking the time to practice especially when I have all the time and opportunities now to put those studies to work gives me no excuse. I have seen so much kindness since this horrible virus has taken over our lives. From my neighbors checking in to the acts of kindness I’ve seen on the news every day. I know I have to stay in a mindset that allows me to follow the path. Not only for kindness to others but kindness to myself. We are our worst critics. I know I am. I want to feel what it is to be happy. Not just talk about it. And that brings me to what this blog is really about.
Hope. That in whatever life throws at us there is always hope. This is our time to believe, desire and trust. The true definition of hope and happiness.
With all that is going on right now in the world, the word start came into mind. I have a lot of time on my hands now that I can’t leave my house. So that voice started telling me to start cleaning your garage and throw out all the makeup items you never use. Start cleaning those closets that have been overlooked for so long. Start organizing your pictures in those boxes (in the garage) and on your computer that you know you have duplicates of but have never taken the time to delete them for fear you will delete all of them.
Wait! This is what is going on in my crazy mind when the world is fighting a pandemic virus? Are you kidding me? No, sad to say I’m not. For the other meaning to start is a sudden movement of surprise or alarm. I don’t know about you but when I am alarmed I tend to play it off and start thinking about all of the things I should be doing. I become more aware of what I’m not doing instead of what I am doing.
I am catching up on my long-overdue reading and believe me, it’s not easy. I get a newspaper every day and have two and three webinars to view on any given day. That’s not including the stack of books I am determined to read before God knows when.
I am determined to start a podcast of my writings but the second meaning becomes very clear why I haven’t. A sudden movement of surprise or alarm. More like an alarm for failing. I have been listening to Mike Dooley who has a three-part webinar entitled The Art of Performing Miracles.
Now before you think I’m going woo-woo on you he does have some very interesting and valuable things to say. When I first saw the email about it I thought, “Oh brother here we go again. Another webinar about changing your life and doing it with their $99.00 program. But it was all free and no sales pitch was attached so I thought, “Maybe this is a good place to start.”
He focused not on the journey but on the outcome. He asked to imagine the end result. To ask yourself what do I really want? He was much like William James, the father of modern psychology. He talked about not wasting time looking down but to look up to move forward. To start and take action. Give myself a deadline and follow what adventure it will take me regardless of the outcome. To just START.
Right now, it can’t be any more unsure than where we are now. I know we will get through this and on the other side. I will have chosen the first meaning of start to realize miracles are invisible until we realize they are possible. Take care of yourself. We need all the miracles we can get.
William James, the founder of psychology in the US, explains that most human feelings aren’t just in our heads. In his book “Principles of Psychology”, written in 1890, he says our emotions are “tightly bound” in our actions and bodies. Here we are in 2020 and not much has changed.
Depression seemed to embrace me in January more than usual. The first of the year always seems bright the first week and then old habits seem to sneak back in. I have notes everywhere of what I should do or feel about day to day living but never seemed to be able to carry it through.
I have to say I didn’t really feel like going out much or even getting off the couch. Work was slow and I felt my age for the first time. “The business retires you” kept going through my head and I must admit I seemed to think that was the truth. I was falling into what James writes we do… “sit all day in a moping posture, sigh, and reply to everything with a dismal voice, and your melancholy lingers.” But he’s telling us to “act differently. To do something even if it’s the last thing we want to do. Get the blood flowing. Inactivity is the enemy.”
I had not written my blog for quite a while and felt I had little to say. But in fact, I have a lot to say and refuse to let myself run off course. It is my responsibility to choose how I will let life go without having a say in it.
I leave you with this quote from William James. “We don’t laugh because we’re happy. We’re happy because we laugh. Actions do not always bring happiness, but there is no happiness without action.”