Make Way for Happiness

Make Way for Happiness

As we move into the pandemic recovery process, how do you make way for happiness? Let me ask: do you find yourself less happy than you anticipated? An answer of “yes” to the latter question is not uncommon. What we think will make us happy is often off-base. It might sound like: I’ll be so happy when businesses re-open to full capacity. I’ll be so happy when we get a vaccine. I’ll be so happy when we can return to “normal.” While these things are wonderful, and for many, a great relief, we commonly overestimate the impact they have on our happiness. If you were somehow spared a personal loss or trauma during the pandemic, you are still part of the collective trauma. A perpetual fight or flight mode has an impact on our emotional, mental, and physical being. As a result, happiness can elude us. Stressors, Stress, and Happiness Consider how we respond to stressors. Our brains function to protect and serve: our primitive brain reacts to protect us from real or perceived threats and our modern brain serves in conscious thought and logic. For example, the danger of contracting a potentially deadly virus triggers our fear. When we sense a threat (real or perceived), our brain reacts in hyper-drive, bypassing information processing sequences. Typically, the modern brain engages a moment later to gather more information, analyze the threat, and modulate our behavior. However, when our primitive brain remains engaged too frequently, or strongly, survival-based emotions become the norm. This lives little room for happiness. The factors that influence our happiness are easily misunderstood. Eliminating or changing stressors...