The world seems like a pretty horrible place right now doesn't it? Between the terror attacks almost too numerous to count, the awfulness of the Syrian refugee crisis and some personal bad news that has left my family in shock, it's becoming harder and harder to find the happy things in life. As you read this I am in Athens working on a proposal for a refugee program to try to help Syrian families and their plight is heartbreaking. Those moments that make you smile, and give comfort in the sea of pain that so many are experiencing, are important now more than ever before. It's the time to cling on to those, to find light in the darkness.
Luckily for me I have a very good friend who knows how to make those moments for me. I've written about making a list of good and bad things before, but it really is such an effective technique at cheering yourself up. Not only do you get to acknowledge the bad stuff, because it exists and it's no good pretending otherwise, you find you get so caught up in the good things that they become a much longer list. It's even more fun to do this with friends and remind each other of happy things that they may have forgotten.
But after listing happy and sad things came one of those moments that made me realise you can pull happiness from thin air: she started playing Starships' 'Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now' and we stood on our desks, singing our hearts out. In that moment of laughter and freedom and sheer exhilaration happiness crept back in and I vowed to look for it in the future.
I wrote about embracing sadness last week, and I stand by what I said: it's good to accept and lie with our emotions rather than fighting them all the time. But when we've had those moments of sadness and accepted the situation for what it is, it's powerful to know what techniques can cheer us up. One of the ways I usually do this is by playing 'Hey Jude' by The Beatles. There's something about that song that never fails to put a smile on my face, even in the worst of times.
And in those situations across the news where other's stories of pain are so heartbreaking, look for the helpers. There will always be people trying to do good against the odds and we must support them and keep up hope. Or, better yet, be a helper yourself. There is so much we can do to bring more kindness into the world on a micro and macro scale, and I personally believe that it's becoming more and more important to be a positive and brightening influence. Just ask yourself: what can I do today?
The key to a balanced life is embracing both: the sadness and the happiness, but so often it's easier to get caught up in the former. So find out what works for you, and throw yourself into it. Sing, dance, skate, shout, hug, laugh, live, help: do whatever it is that will bring you some light. There will always be bad in the world, but there will be good too and maybe some days you just have to look harder for it.