creating meaningful moments during tough times

Photo by Joonas

Lately, I’ve been realizing that in life sometimes when we get hit by hard times they might not end as soon as we’d like. Maybe you have to deal with something for 1, 2, 5, 13 years or even longer. That leaves a lot of room for wallowing in your pain or suffering. Is there really no better way to live than this?

Sometimes we create those tough times for our own selves. For example, may set long-term goals for ourselves. Let’s say you choose a career path where the training will take you 10+ years before you can become a professional and gain stability in your career.

Then we set conditions upon ourselves just to be happy. “I won’t be satisfied unless I reach this goal, and then I’ll set the next goal,” we say. Do we really need to wait that long to allow ourselves to be happy?

For both kinds of scenarios, I ask myself this question: What if I were to die right now, would I be happy? content? satisfied with my life so far?

I’m realizing that instead of wasting away years putting happiness on hold for so long due to these if-then scenarios (e.g., I’ll be happy once I get my own apartment, once I’m stable in my career, once I’m good at x skill, once I have a partner, once I have x amount of money, once I am healed from this past-event etc.), it’s so important to regularly and deliberately create pockets of joyful moments for yourself!

It’s good to acknowledge the suck-i-ness of your current predicament, maybe complain about it a bit, shed some tears and be sad about it for a while, journal it out… But it’s important to not let that define your entire outlook on life. In fact, if you don’t do that, not only will you remember the bulk of your life in a negative light, you might even miss out on getting ideas to make your situation better.

Photo by Aleksey Kuprikov on

Just because you’ve been experiencing a night for a long time, doesn’t mean you can’t look up to see the sparkling stars- doesn’t mean you can never gather the last bit of strength to create a little fire for yourself to keep you warm and help you see more things. And while sitting down and working through your negative emotions is important, being in that place for too long will only be productive for so long.

Some practical ways to create more joy in your life, even if some other things suck right now:

Pay attention to the natural beauty around you and take a few moments out of your day to enjoy those things. This can mean stopping to look at some flowers and noticing their bright colours, enjoying the changing colours of the sunset in the sky, the intricate design and shape of a snowflake, the thrumming sound of a waterfall etc.

Express genuine thanks to people who do things for you. By this, I don’t mean the automatic “thanks” we give out of habit. Take a moment to let this feeling or thought sink into you: How lovely it is that instead of experiencing something harsh from another human, it was something nice instead. How lovely is it that they thought of me to do that kind thing for me!

Consume new information. Reading books, or watching something, whether it’s fiction or non-fiction can not only serve as a nice relief from stress, but it can also introduce you to new ideas that could inspire you to strategize and tackle your real-life problems differently.

Stay in touch with other people. Staying in touch with people can help you get out of your own head, realize you’re not the only one with problems and your problems are tackle-able, get exposed to potentially helpful ideas, and elevate your mood by sharing experiences, humour, food, and good vibes 🙂


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