I've lost my Joy.

I know I'm not the only one in this situation but every day I just feel so sad. I'm only ever about half an hour away from wanting to have a little cry, or a big one. I still have my job, I'm living in a comfortable if cramped house with my partner and our 6 six year old son. In the grand scheme of things, I'm fine I have food and shelter and people I love (most of the time). But I'm bored, I'm lonely and I'm frightened. I do have friends and a family but I miss them and nothing I seem to do makes me feel any less pointless at this stage. I can't even imagine getting back to the person I was, a fun loving and very social woman.



If there's one thing we know, it's that this too will pass. In the never ending cycle of peaks and troughs that this world presents, we will move on, albeit landing somewhere completely different from where we started. The problem with the unknown is that we don't know what it is so we don't know how to manage it, catalogue it and plan for it.

it's perfectly reasonable to feel sadness at this time. It's is overwhelming and uncharted. There is also no shame in finding space for joy to live beside the pain. In fact, happiness is not supposed to be a perpetual state, but rather the top notes and high points of our existence. When negative feelings abound, however, it just might need an added push to break through. There are practical exercises that you can do to put a bit of order on your situation. First, in as much as is possible, try to understand the landscape of your current challenges. Make three columns and label them as follows

Challenges I can't control

Challenges I can control

Challenges I can influence

Ask someone you love and trust to look over your list. It's very possible that you have blindsided yourself and see no ability to control things that are within your gift to do so.

The challenges that fall into the 'can't control' column, well, if you're being truly honest with yourself and have validated their status, let them sit there, there's simply nothing you can do about them. Examples of challenges of this nature are worries about future incurable illnesses of yourself and loved ones. National health guidelines in the light of a global pandemic, your height and your living situation right now. Obviously some of these challenges are agile and may move from from column to column over time. Some wont.

The ones that fall into 'can control', to paraphrase Nike, just do it. Make a plan for how you are going change your reality. If you are missing joy, insert some joy. At first, it may be mechanical, you probably wont mean it but it is a muscle that needs to be brought back into shape. What makes you happy? By the sound of things, activities, action, distractions, human engagement and variety. So, on day one, pick an activity that you previously associated with joy and spend ten minutes doing it. It could be reading, dressing up, drawing, chatting on the phone or playing with your son, hosting a tea party in a home made fort? It could be dancing, stretching, laughing or playing games. This may sound basic but force yourself to pick one thing that makes you happy and do it. Day by day layer these tiny practices on top of each other, punctuating the day with little moments of happiness for yourself and others. Indeed, making other people happy is disproportionally mood enhancing.

The challenges that fall into 'can influence', ask yourself what levers need to be pulled to create real change.

Who do you need to speak to, to make change happen?

What is your compelling argument or data for change?

What common or shared purpose exists to persuade change?

We can influence and control more than we realise in this life. We just have to believe that we have the drive, power and impetus.

Don't be tempted to measure your happiness by the metrics of others. We are all different and find and exhibit happiness and joy in different ways. The important thing is that we find it within ourselves first. An extreme introverts joy will be very different from an extreme extroverts joy.

A six year study in the pursuit of happiness in India resulted in a method using positive psychology to encourage personal happiness and 20 defined steps to making it so. Follow the link, what's the worst that could happen?

If you need one to one guidance, either virtually or in person, happiness coach Pauline Rohdich helps her clients to tap into their purpose and unlock their personal joy she can be contacted on social media @paulinerohdich and through her website JustPause.ie

All we can hope for in this strange time is small highlights, moments that we can hang onto so that when we recall this crisis in memory, we remember the best of ourselves.

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