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The world turned upside down

If you’re a fan of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical, Hamilton, then you likely remember the phrase he wrote to describe the British surrender to American troops in 1781.

The world turned upside down.

The phrase had relevance and meaning when a small upstart country took on a global superpower and won in 1781, and it’s true now, when a microscopic virus has held us hostage and changed the structures and rhythms of our daily lives.

None of the memorable lines in the popular musical is so applicable to our 2020 experience as this one is as we live through quarantines, job losses, and economic instability.

With our worlds turned upside down and no return to normal in sight, how do we reestablish order and well-being in our lives?

First, recognize there is no blueprint for this situation.

No manual exists for how to adjust to your life during a global pandemic. There’s no right way to make this work and a strategy that works one day may not on another. Be easy on yourself as you navigate uncharted waters and look for practical steps you can take to improve your mood.

For example, paying attention to the things that make you happy and expressing your appreciation for them regularly is one easy way to boost your happiness.

Keeping a gratitude journal can be as simple as identifying and recording three things you are grateful for each day. It doesn’t have to be fancy or long -- you can jot down a quick list on a bedside pad each night, purchase a journal made for this, or use one of the many apps that exist to record gratitude.

The trick is to make it a habit. Often when we worry about things outside of our control, we lose sight of the many positive moments that are still occurring in our lives. Making a habit of writing these moments down or recording our feelings helps our minds take note of the positive. Do that every day and the practice can contribute to a regular boost of happiness.

As Gretchen Rubin puts it, “It's about living in the moment and appreciating the smallest things. Surrounding yourself with the things that inspire you and letting go of the obsessions that want to take over your mind.”

Rubin spent a year researching happiness and recording her findings in her bestselling book, The Happiness Project.

“It is a daily struggle sometimes and hard work but happiness begins with your own attitude and how you look at the world,” she wrote.

For those extra rough days, do something nice for yourself. Take a break, reach out to a family member or friend for a conversation, or treat yourself to that extra coffee or pastry.

Self-care doesn’t always have to be justified, according to motivational speaker Andrew Matthews.

“A healthy self-love means we have no compulsion to justify to ourselves or others why we take vacations, why we sleep late, why we buy new shoes, why we spoil ourselves from time to time. We feel comfortable doing things which add quality and beauty to life,” said Matthews.

And, if the day, seems unredeemable, keep this in mind, tomorrow is a brand new day.

“Sometimes I succeed, sometimes I fail, but every day is a clean slate and a fresh opportunity,” Rubin writes.

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