Don’t let anyone or anything take away your joy!
A common phrase in our society when it comes to negative people or situations in our lives. This phrase is especially common in Black families when discussing how to move in an unforgiving, white-supremacist world with a smile on your face. At this moment, our society seems to be in a constant tension that’s been bumbling for years only to be covered by the guise of a post-racial society when President Obama was occupying the White House. However, the only folks surprised is wypipo. Marginalized people knew what’s been going on for years and now all of these media pundits, celebrities, and Rebecca from 4C finally opened their third eye! What a time to be alive!?
It seems at every turn, there’s a negative news story out about corruption, disparaging commentary or actions, that makes me shake my head:
Every time I look at my phone or the news, there’s another thing that’s going to make my blood boil. This feeling was exasperated after a year of 45 being in office and causing all kinds of hell. It seemed like the world was becoming more cynical and in turn, I was too. I’ve been trying to add more positivity in my own life and actively work on limiting sources of negativity. Then I came across this lovely video from the Ron Clark Academy:
The look on these kids’ faces was joy, pure joy. This was “I don’t pay bills” joy! They exuded “I just got chicken nuggets from McDonald’s” joy! Of course, we all know that the reason why they were so excited was because they found out they were going to go see Black Panther together. I love this video so much because it serves as a reminder about joy (#blackboyjoy & #blackgirlmagic) in action. I loved how the students encouraged each other and they were just TURNT!
I’m reminded of the importance of seeking joy despite whatever craziness is happening in the world. Our country hasn’t been doing too well in the happiness department since 2007, according to the 2017 World Happiness Report. In 2016, the United States ranked 19 among OECD countries after consistently falling from 3rd place in 2007 due to declining social support and an increase in corruption. Happiness is fleeting and is influenced by external factors, but joy on the other-hand is constant and internal. It’s contagious. You can feel when someone is joyous in their life. This is how some people who have nothing can have the biggest smile on their faces.
Here are a few tips on how to reclaim your joy for 2018:
A) Pause- Take a moment out of the day just to sit in silence for a few minutes. Get off social media for a bit, close the door, and take it in. It doesn’t have to be for a long period of time. You can do a minute if needed. Breathe a little bit. There are numerous resources that discuss the impact that a mindful pause can have on an individual’s day. Check out this article from Values in Action website.Also, the Harvard Business Review talks about the importance of pausing, especially if you’re not too keen at your job.
B) Find your sweet spot- Of course, you can’t have a world full of positivity and nothing negative. Find a healthy balance that you feel is right for you. I’m way more selective now about where I get my information from and the people that I choose to engage with. Not every article, tweet, or video deserves your energy or time. That person on Facebook that believes EVERYTHING is an issue of racial injustice? Mute them for a little bit. Tired of watching WorldStar videos with people getting beat-up? Maybe take a gander at positive.news or sunnyskyz.com. In a world where everything is 24/7, it can be overwhelming to get hit with 500 opinion pieces on something 45 said and how Russia interfered with the 2016 election. It’s only so many times you can watch a Black body get shot by law enforcement. I had to stop watching some of these videos because it was unknowingly harming me. Offset (No Cardi) your negative items with more positive information and insight.
C) Keep a gratitude journal- Last year, I came across this method of journaling and I love it! I look back at those moments and I’m even more thankful now than I was when I wrote them down. Keep in mind that it doesn’t have to be a looong journal entry. It can be one sentence about 1 thing that you’re grateful for that particular day. I’ve seen people write for 15 minutes expressing their gratitude about a variety of topics. Personally, I’ve found the writing for 15 minutes method to be calming and really gives me the opportunity to express “WHY” I’m grateful for whatever I was writing down. Check out this article for more information gratitude journaling.
D) Seek Counseling- At a time where Black bodies are constantly under attack (not just physically either), it’s important to check your mental and emotional health. We’re quick to get our bodies, cellphones, and cars checked out when something is wrong. But what about our emotional and mental health? These areas are just as important as everything else. Therapy helped me become a better husband, friend, brother, and son. I’m not perfect and still have a ways to go, however, I’m much further along than where I started. If you’re interested in therapy, the podcast/website (one of my favorites even though it says that it’s for black girls), therapyforblackgirls.com has a directory of Black therapist across the nation that you can check out.
What are some other ways that you’ve reclaimed YOUR joy this year? What would you add to this list?