Lately, there’s just been a pervading sadness in the air.
I find that I haven’t been logging on to social media as much as I used to. I thought I was alone, but I wasn’t. It was a sentiment shared by so many of my friends. Facebook, which used to be our playground, was no longer fun to hang around in. It feels like it has been overtaken by bullies and trolls.
Perhaps it was time to reclaim the playground and to find other areas to find joy and positivity in. Because I wasn’t logging on as often and as much, I had more time to read books that had been lying on my bedside table for a while. There was more time to listen to music, and, overall, just more time to be, to write and to relax.
When you take a digital detox, your brain clears up instantly. Your mood lifts, your stress levels go down, and for the hypertensive ones, so does your blood pressure. Social media is a wonderful tool for connecting and reconnecting, and keeping abreast of the personal, the professional and, of course, current affairs.
It’s always in your power to select what you read, just as it’s also in your power to discern what to post.
Reconnect with the real world
How does one restore joy in one’s life when the spirit has been sapped by a social media feed that overflows with sadness and madness?
Well, get out, get off—even for a day or two. Here are some of the things you can do while you put those gadgets to rest and reconnect with the real world.
Listen to music, and dance like no one is watching. Put on your headphones and build a new playlist. Scan Spotify and choose the right music to suit your mood.
Look at recent (or old) music videos of your favorite singers. Currently, I’m loving the new Barbra Streisand collection where she sings duets of famous Broadway hits with the unlikeliest of singers—think Jamie Foxx, Alec Baldwin. But wow, the music makes the spirit soar. It is mind-blowing.
I often listen to music first thing in the morning or before I go to sleep, and I’ve found that it’s the perfect day-ender.
Connect and reconnect with others in the real world. Really being present for someone, especially a friend, deepens and expands your capacity to empathize with the world. Social media of late seems to desensitize rather than bring people closer. Perhaps it’s due to all the vitriol and the strained relationships that have resulted over the last few months.
Nothing truly beats human connection in the real world, more so if you are truly present for, and engaged with, the person you’re with.
Volunteer and help out. Not enough can be said about the joy of sharing and giving of oneself. Use social media as a tool to engage others and rally support for a cause. Talk about, and build on, what you love rather than tearing each other down.
There are so many causes and advocacies. You only need to listen to what makes your heart sing or beat wildly. My friend Joan is very passionate about helping single mothers, and she volunteers regularly at a center to teach them values and life skills. Another friend finds joy in matching abandoned dogs and cats with new owners. Other friends go on regular medical missions.
The meaningful life is truly made and built strong in all the acts and moments where we give of ourselves without expecting anything in return.
Ah, but compassion must also mean compassion for the self.
I remember a wise friend of mine who always reminds me to take breaks. “Don’t imbibe sadness all the time. Make adequate time to replenish the emotional tank with joy.”
It is advice that I take to heart constantly. And I encourage you to do the same.
Go on long, quiet walks. Take time to enjoy a delicious meal by yourself or with loved ones, and be adventurous in trying out new things.
Learn something new every now and then. Take a dance class, an art class, a cooking class—whatever it is that you’ve been wanting to learn but have been putting off because you have no time or are afraid to fail. Break routine and get out of your comfort zone now and then. Challenge yourself, and if you fail, learn to laugh at yourself, too.
Get rid of joy blockers
Get to know your joy blockers and get rid of them! You know the saying, “You cannot give what you do not have”? How can you give joy to your children, your spouse or partner, your friend or your loved ones, if you yourself do not have joy?
Be sensitive to negativity and keep away from it. Limit your exposure to it, and if it’s unavoidable (like, for example, if the person lives in your house), sit that person down and, in a kind manner, see if you can point out how miserable they make the lives of others.
If they refuse to see it, move forward and just pray for them. Don’t take it personally. Sometimes people have become so weighed down by their personal baggage that they no longer know any other way to exist but to keep on carrying the load and foisting their misery on others.
Get out of the way. You’re not a superhero and cannot save everyone. You can only love, and sometimes that may mean loving someone from a distance.
People who are hurting hurt people. Remember that. You and only you are the master of your own joy.
E-mail the author at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @cathybabao.