As I am sitting listening to The Piano Guys on my headphones and glancing now and then over to watch my husband of almost 60 years sound asleep with the kitty, Lilly, asleep as well, I am filled with appreciation ~ appreciation that we are both still healthy despite a pandemic, as well as being able to share this time together. Being the age we are, 77 and 80, I realize we are among the most vulnerable and I feel blessed every day that arrives that our health is still intact and we can still enjoy each other’s company, and of course, that makes us happy. I recently came across a poem that spoke to me ~

My grandmother once gave me a tip:

In difficult times, you move forward in small steps.

Do what you have to do, but little by little.

Don’t think about the future, or what may happen tomorrow.

Wash the dishes.

Remove the dust.

Write a letter.

Make the soup.

You See?

You are advancing step by step.

Take a step and stop.

Rest a little.

Praise yourself.

Take another step.

Then another.

You won’t notice, but your steps will grow more and more.

And the time will come when you think about the future

without crying.

Elena Mikhalkova

At such an uncertain time such as this pandemic, I think that just taking it slow and accepting all the changes can help. And when we ask the question, can happiness really influence our health, apparently, studies confirm that yes, it really can affect health. There’s also evidence that happiness can have beneficial effects on the cardiovascular and immune systems, influence hormones and inflammation levels, and speed wound healing. It’s even been linked to longer telomeres, protein caps on the end of chromosomes that get shorter with age.

Another glimpse into happiness comes from Viktor Frankl, an Austrian neurologist, psychiatrist, and Holocaust survivor, who devoted his life to studying, understanding, and promoting “meaning.” “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing,” Frankl wrote in Man’s Search for Meaning, “the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

This made me reflect on what is happening in all of our lives today with the pandemic. Perhaps the secret to helping maintain a healthy lifestyle in spite of the circumstances each of us is in is simply holding on to that gift – the gift to choose our attitude towards it. I especially enjoyed what a life and leadership coach, Cam Taylor, spoke about regarding some strategies for greater happiness. Here are 3:

  • Reflect. Take time to stop and notice what you see and feel. Review how you want to live and act. Keep a journal, talk to wise friends, go for a slow walk, lean into the parts of your life you’d rather ignore.
  • Refocus. Based on what you notice and learn, set a new direction then choose to walk there. Ask God to give you the strength to be outwardly focused, love deeply, and be the creative person you were born to be.
  • Respond. Instead of reacting to circumstances, respond by engaging in creative activities, life-giving experiences, with attitudes that will take you up the mountain, not down into the valley.

I know these times will pass but how we manage and endure our circumstances will last. Listening to music, slowing down, spending moments alone and with family, all play a part. Experiencing meaning and purpose in all of this I believe is the greatest happiness we can have. What about you? Have you found a way to cope with the stresses of this pandemic that we are all faced with? Please share your own experiences with us.

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