It’s easy to forget…
“It’s depressing.” “It feels like we’re on Mars. Then the news said it’s more like Venus.” “Just when you think things couldn’t get any worse… And then they do.” “I got sick this week – I don’t know if it’s a cold, stress or Covid.“… “I can’t tell if it’s night or day. It’s apocalyptic.” “Everything is coming together – in a bad way. “Surreal. And scary.” “We’ve fucked up Mother Earth.” “It’s hard to be on a screen all day.” “Forced sterilization at the border.. Are you kidding me!?!” “I just break down and cry every time another Black man gets killed”…
It’s easy, when all of these things are going on, to feel the weight of the world on your shoulders, or to worry that the sun may never shine again. To feel alone, or down on yourself for all those intense feelings you’re having. It’s easy to lose your motivation, or to be so exhausted that you can’t even think about one more thing.
When you’re weary it’s easy to see all of the catastrophic chain of events coming up ahead, right in line with this catastrophic chain of events that has already happened. It’s easy to see only misery and despair that lie ahead, anxiety about what’s yet to come. It’s easy to feel a total loss of control and to feel yourself slipping in a downward spiral, with no break (or brake).
During a prolonged time of trial and tribulation, it’s easy to forget who you are; what’s really important to you; where those little joys or moments of hope are; or if you can have any positive impact on your life at all.
When one thing after another gets us down; when the world seems so messed up, with so many fires to put out (literally and figuratively), it’s easy to forget that each one of us has the possibility of making our world a better place, even if just a little bit.
It’s easy to forget that we can positively impact someone else or do something good for ourselves. Hard to remember what those things might even be.
In the last week I spoke with one despairing person after another, who felt unable to see through the “smoke” that has occupied their lives and restricted their vision, their ability to breathe, their perspective about life. “When will this ever end?” many asked.
My job has been to listen to and validate their hardship. Remind them that they are not alone. Acknowledge that these are not normal times and we shouldn’t expect “the normal” from ourselves. I have shared peoples’ burdens and tried to lighten their load. I have fought my own inclination to be despairing and hopeless.
I have intended to remind myself and others about the things we seem to forget so easily – and I have been uplifted by many folks’ capacity to be reminded and to remember the simple joys of life:
Those who remember they can walk around in their house and get exercise without going outside.
Parents who are “camping” indoors with their kids.
People who can set up an altar with remembrances from their most current losses of loved ones or ways of life that they miss and pay homage to those most important beings and things.
Folks who don’t define themselves as environmentalists, but who acknowledge that they do love Mother Earth, and who can put her representations on that altar, or somewhere meaningful as well.
The possibility of turning on some music and just letting their bodies sway to the rhythms.
What happens when we let ourselves be creative with art supplies, magazines, paper, food, home or yard decorating, etc.
Reflecting on how we might sound to our loved ones and intentionally trying to communicate more thoughtfully.
Choosing not to engage in an argument and learning to depersonalize others’ comments or criticisms.
Pausing – anyone can meditate for a few moments.
Turning off the news and social media.
Setting up an art station, or a touch station, or a sound or smell station.
Visualizing the world you want to co-create.
Journaling about sweet memories, or the ways you’ve grown, or whatever is right here right now.
Reflecting on what you feel appreciative of or have gratitude about.
Learning about your own cultural, ethnic, racial history.
Writing a letter to yourself of all the things you love, admire, respect, care about yourself.
Knowing, articulating, defining your own thoughts, wishes, feelings, concerns, triggers, reactions.
Planning a special surprise, and honoring, a virtual gathering for someone you care about or even for yourself.
Seeing life through a child’s eyes. How would you feel going through all of this when you were a kid?
Take a few hours for a personal mini retreat.
Building a skill you’ve always wanted to improve.
Learning a new language.
Clean up something that’s been bugging you.
Offer a kindness to someone else out of the blue.
See the Greater Good Science Center’s September calendar for happiness, for more great ideas to help you remember about life’s blessings:
It’s so easy to forget how much wonderful is still present in our plague – filled lives. It’s so easy to forget the beauty of our humanity. It’s so easy to forget these simple joys that make life richer, more meaningful, more connected. It’s so easy to forget we have agency to make those connections.
But with some nudging, or reflection, or intention, or just opening up to the possibility, it’s so easy to recover some simple joys and freedoms, and to find fullness in the moments we have.
What’s been meaningful or brought quiet joy to your plagued life lately? Large or small; moments of wonder, delight, awe, poignancy… As you begin to look for them, they’ll be easier and easier to not forget.
If you or someone you love is having difficulty remembering the beautiful moments of life, please contact me for a therapy appointment. Take good care.