Doom and gloom seem to be the everyday headlines when it comes to updates about the coronavirus. If it is not about how many more are infected, then it is also about prevention by social distancing. You have to make an effort to find uplifting news to help suppress your possible anxiety and worry.
We may be living in stressful times but if there is a day we need to, perhaps, feel better in this current atmosphere, then it is on International Day of Happiness which falls on March 20.
What is the International Day of Happiness?
In 2012, the United Nations (UN) officiated the day to recognise “the relevance of happiness and well-being as universal goals and aspirations in the lives of human beings around the world and the importance of their recognition in public policy objectives,” as well as “the need for a more inclusive, equitable and balanced approach to economic growth that promotes sustainable development, poverty eradication, happiness and the well-being of all peoples,” as stated on the UN website.
Why is there such a day?
The resolution was initiated by the Kingdom of Bhutan (read also about “Lessons this Singaporean Learnt From Living In The World’s Happiest Place“), a country which values national happiness over national income since the 1970s, and where it famously adopted the goal of Gross National Happiness over Gross National Product. Bhutan also hosted a high-level meeting on “Happiness and Well-Being: Defining a New Economic Paradigm” during the 66th session of the General Assembly where a report presented the available global data on national happiness.
According to the World Happiness Report website, that report resulted in an annual one that reviews “related evidence from the emerging science of happiness showing that the quality of people’s lives can be coherently, reliably, and validly assessed by a variety of subjective well-being measures, collectively referred to then and in subsequent reports as ‘happiness.’”
The website also says every year, the report includes “updated evaluations and a range of commissioned chapters on special topics digging deeper into the science of well-being, and on happiness in specific countries and regions.” The reports can be insightful and helpful for governments and companies to have a better overall perspective on achieving happiness. Individuals can also learn from them in their own ways to affect change.
On an individual scale for us in this present time, here’s some suggestions on how to be happy in a time of coronavirus and social distancing:
If there was ever a time to learn to meditate, now is it. With all the home time you are having, take a break from work or the day’s stresses by meditating. Learn how with guided meditations from apps like Headspace, Calm, Breathe, Insight Timer and Sattva – some are free, some come with subscription.
To put your mind at ease, limit your scrolling time for social media or even reading the news. If you can’t physically put your phone away, there are apps to help you. There is Off the Grid (Android only) that completely blocks your phone for a certain length of time determined by you, and you’ll get charged if you end your session early – how’s that for an incentive? Flipd works similarly but with no charge, and there’s Freedom and Offtime that block apps and websites that are distracting especially when you want to be productive (here’s How to be Super Productive If You’re Working From Home).
Remember the good old days when we had a house phone number and used an actual phone with a line that’s attached to a wall? If you own one now, use it! Call your bestie and talk into the night like you used to as teenagers. Discuss a Netflix series like Love is Blind while watching it together over the phone (here are all the dramas that can be conversation starters).
If you prefer your mobile, video chat your friends or do a group session. It’ll be like brunch but over the smartphone. You can eat too while chatting to each other. How about a dinner date via video conferencing? The possibilities are endless. You’re not alone when you have your mobile at hand.
Now that you have so much free home time (from not commuting or going out for lunch), you could consider taking up online classes to better yourself (here are 7 Reasons Why You Should Never Stop Learning). Learn a new language on an apps like Busuu or Duolingo, try out some coding (search for DataCamp), watch self-help videos like Be Inspired or School of Life, and read books you own at home but haven’t opened. There are plenty of options to upskill and gain knowledge.
Use this home time to get fit and move more since you’re stuck at home. Check out these calisthenic exercises we’ve compiled for you. You can pick something different everyday and spend no money on all these various classes.
Housework and disinfecting your surfaces will also get you moving. But if you’re going to do this, do it the right way. Keeping fit and healthy will help prevent the virus from infecting you.
To create a happy atmosphere, practise doing things that will create such an aura. Write a gratitude journal – being grateful keeps you present and positive. Tidy up your spaces as it helps to unclutter your mind or redecorate and get creative with your own DIY creations. This can also be a family activity for bonding time. Meal prep so you minimise your grocery shopping by knowing what healthy foods you will be having in the week.
The key ingredient for all these suggestions is for all of us to slow down to be happy. The coronavirus is forcing us to stay home, have less physical contact, stop crazy work hours and multi-tasking, disconnect from our devices and just breathe for some quality “me” time (which should really be a priority). This is what slow living is about – to be more present and let go of the fear of missing out (FOMO).
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, one who partakes in slow mornings, said in an interview on Bloomberg Television: “I like to putter in the morning, so I like to read the newspaper, have coffee, have breakfast with my kids before they go to school. My puttering time is very important for me.”
If Jeff Bezos can putter, so can we.
And most of all, be kind to yourself and to those around you (here’s why it is cool to be kind). Help someone in need (like cook for an elderly neighbour), be patient and nice to people around you (everyone is adjusting to being at home a lot of time) and to your own self. All this will make you happy, we guarantee.