Finding Joy Amid Uncertainty

About six months into the pandemic, around the point when we all realized that this was not going away anytime soon, I found myself waking in the middle of the night, flooded with old, mostly unpleasant, random memories. I would lay there trying hard to push them away, but sometimes the thoughts would win, and I’d end up talking to my sleepy cat over coffee at 4 a.m.  After several nights of this, it struck me that the common denominator in these seemingly random memories is that they were all of times when life was uncertain, or when I was feeling especially unsettled.

It’s during these times that stress can take over and hijack our thoughts. Despite knowing how important self-care is in managing the effects of stress, I found myself searching for the easy button. I was letting go of my regular exercise routine, convincing myself that I should “take it easy.” Or having that extra dessert because “I deserve it.”  These behaviors didn’t help, they only served to contribute to the energy drain and fractured sleep. What I realized is that I had lost sight of joy.  Even joy in the simple things had escaped me. Things like a walk in the woods, laughing with a friend, or reading a good book.

It was during a coaching session with a long-time client, that I was reminded of the importance of leaning into those things that bring us joy. I had asked her how she was doing with her own stress, and she simply said, “You know Eva, you’ve taught me to find immense joy in taking care of myself and that is what’s bringing me peace right now.” There! That was it! Finding her joy had brought her peace. 

I mean, seriously, who doesn’t enjoy lazing around on a Sunday afternoon or indulging in a decadent dessert on occasion? But overindulging and blaming it on stress keeps us distracted and disconnected from life. We are living in uncertain times for sure. The world is changing. Which is why it’s more important than ever to tune into the things that bring us joy – that feeling of great pleasure or happiness. You can find joy amid uncertainty. You just need to remember to look for it.

I’m happy to say that since shifting my focus to the things that bring me joy, and away from the stress of the uncertainty, my pre-dawn coffee dates with my cat have become much less frequent. And she’s just as happy as I am about that.