October 3, 2022

The most important pandemic lesson for happiness

We were on the path to isolation long before COVID hit, but then, suddenly, really out of the blue, we were locked down.

We were on the path to isolation long before COVID hit, but then, suddenly, really out of the blue, we were locked down. We couldn’t go to work, we couldn’t see our friends, we couldn’t hug our family, we couldn’t kiss our elderly. We had to stay home, learn a new reality, build a new lifestyle. We had to discover how to live this new life.

For most of us it has been 1 year since we've been hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. Little did we know back in February 2020 what a turn our lives would take, how the world itself would come to a halt.

Never before in our generation has death embraced humanity so closely. An invisible enemy walking free on our streets, our heroes battling thin air. Never before have we come together as one global force. We have fought and fought and waited for things to get “back to normal”, we’ve sacrificed hoping we’d see the end of this nightmare and along the way we might have lost ourselves. We've hoped for a normality that is not returning, failing to accept the new reality, reminiscing about the past, daydreaming about the future.

But life is now, life is not last year, life is not next year. We must live in the now. That’s the lesson we must learn: To live in the now!

Happiness is not something of the past and it’s equally not something to be planned for later.

Living in the now makes us happier. It’s the only way we can focus our energy on improving our day to day.

COVID has made us plunge either in a past or future happiness mindset. Remembering past happy moments or fantasizing with happy moments in the future. However, both mindsets are dangerous in the current environment and here is why:

1. Future: The “When…. then I'll be happy…” mindset. When this pandemic is over then I'll be happy.

These are the people for whom now is not the moment to be happy, the ones who's happiness is a milestone away, but then there will be another and then another. This is a dangerous mindset, and even more in the current environment as the end of the pandemic keeps “getting delayed”. Therefore, we must build our lifestyle within the framework of our new reality in such a way that it's filled with the things that nourish us, the things that energize us, the things that make us happy now. The joy that comes from imagining future pleasures makes us happy, but when the future is uncertain, the result might be disappointment.

2. Past: The “When… I was happy. When I was able to travel, I was happy.

This is your melancholic person, living in the past, reminiscing the better times. This is especially surfacing in the present moment. People often bring up how happy they were before this pandemic hit and quickly jump to the future mindset, hoping for happiness to return in the future, without stopping to think of the present. While happy memories do have the power to sprinkle moments of happiness in the present, it’s important we don’t rely on them as the one and only way to experience happiness in the present.

To make sure that we don’t get stuck in any of the two mindsets above it's critical we cultivate and exercise the third and most important type of mindset:

3. Present: The “I am happy now because…. [you fill the blank].” I am happy now because I get to enjoy a lot of time with my kids.

I'd like to invite you to BE HAPPY NOW! And that’s not to say we're not living a tough time, that’s to say be happy in the now, even when the now is not ideal. Remember there is a countdown, so make each day count.

Live each day as if it were a gift. And, actually, it will be. - Nina Lesowitz

Written by Andreea Pap

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