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How to Chase Joy in Times of Crisis

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I was going to start with, “When you live in America, it feels like every day you wake up to a new national headline where something devastatingly horrible happened,” but then I remembered that’s not just the state of, well, the states, rather it tends to be the state of the world. 

The laundry list of chaos that comes with being a human being nowadays is hard, not just on the people who are immediately impacted by quite literally everything, but also the people watching. How many people are living with collective trauma from watching videos of people being killed daily? How many conversations have I personally seen on Twitter within 24 hours where people talk about how they’re living with anxiety doing everyday, mundane tasks? Things constantly feel like they’re getting worse, not better, and the water is getting hotter for all involved.

Finding joy is hard, and sometimes it’s easy to feel guilt and shame for even wanting to find reasons to be happy in today’s world, but it’s necessary for our survival to still find reasons to live and fight for a better tomorrow. 

This isn’t me saying that you should “choose happiness” or to  “just ignore it.” I don’t think we should bypass what’s happening in the world. At the same time, I also feel that we can allow multiple feelings to exist at once, and that includes grief, anger, sadness, anxiety and jubilation and glee.


1. Stop doom scrolling.

Seriously, stop. I know the feeling of needing to be up to date or else you’re a bad citizen, but genuinely what are you going to do about it? Are you going to get on a plane and fly out to whatever area the atrocity happened and start saving people like Batman? 

You can look at your phone every now and then so you’re updated without being glued in to every single grief-ridden, fear-laced, alarmist thought the internet is having about whatever is happening in the world. 

Instead of doom scrolling, follow a few trusted accounts (usually lawyers are my safe bet) who know what they’re talking about. Check in on those accounts for your updates maybe twice a day, and otherwise put the phone away. 

It’s OK to chase joy while being aware of the Hellscape the modern world is.

2. Process your feelings.

Two emotions can exist at once, yes, but that doesn’t mean you get to bypass processing what you need to process. If you’re angry, feel it. Scream. Yell. Do whatever you have to do to let those emotions out. If you’re sad, cry. Lay in bed and pull your weighted blanket up to your chest. Let the heaviness sink in. Emotions come and go in waves, even if it’s a huge colossal wave that takes you under. Let yourself feel what you have to feel safely. Process it. Do what you have to do to tackle those feelings.

3. Center yourself.

How do you ground yourself back out? 

For me I surround myself with flowers. I smell candles and lay under my blankets with my dog sleeping on top of me. In a dark room I put on an Audrey Hepburn movie, allowing my comfort actress to fill me with peace after I just emptied out all the different emotions. 

Video games, nature walks, movies, aromatherapy, and skin care are great examples for ways to center and ground yourself out. Drink water and eat. Take care of those basic needs.

4. Figure out what brings you joy, and chase it.

This is similar, but still different from number three. Centering yourself grounds out all the hectic emotions. I see this tip as more active. If I just sat down with my Audrey Hepburn movies to bring me back to a “neutral” state of mind, now I want to find something that wakes my soul up. 

Karaoke is my go-to, and if my attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder allows me to, baking is another great option. Sometimes I dance, or I find an open mic night to travel to. 

The goal is to refill the well, because the moment you check social media again you will immediately be brought back to the reality of the world — and that’s the secret. Bad things are still happening. Bad things are always going to happen, and sadly some bad things are way worse than others, but if we let those bad things consume us it’s easy for negative and dark thoughts to seep into our mind. 

I know you may not believe me right now, but life is still worth living even though the world is basically burning and on fire every single day.

It’s OK to chase joy while being aware of the Hellscape the modern world is. Just remember you’re not alone, and we will get through this together. Somehow, someway.

Lead image courtesy of contributor

Originally published: May 26, 2022
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