After living through many “once in a lifetime” events in a row, finding the beauty in life can sometimes be really difficult. In a world where we are surrounded by an endless stream of tragic news on a weekly basis, it is sometimes easy to lose sight of the smaller things – the little everyday joys that help you feel like existing isn’t quite so pointless.
It is important to remember that human beings were never meant to process the amount of information we now get exposed to daily. For most of humanity’s history, we lived in smaller communities, spread further apart. Whatever news we got exposed to were usually local, and updates were scarce.
But as we have evolved, the exponential development of a global society paired with the level of access to the news provided by the internet means psychologists have seen an increase in a phenomenon they call “media overload.” According to one study, the more people sought out information, the more they reported emotional distress. For people with a great capacity for empathy, all of this eventually leads to burnout.
So to find steady moments of joy amidst what feels like a steady stream of bad news, we must first start with taking inventory of our lives, the self-care strategies we have in place, and deciding what we want it to look like. Of course, there will still be days that suck and feel unsalvageable, but the goal with romanticizing your life is making sure that the rest of them feel good.
It’s okay to take a break
Whatever this looks like to you, remember it is okay to take a break – you can’t, after all, pour from an empty bucket. This can mean silencing your news alerts, looking for new grounding techniques, or journaling your thoughts so that you don’t have to carry them around with you. It doesn’t mean that you have to stop reading the news; it just means that maybe you don’t need to be immersed in it every waking moment.
Empathy is a really important skill, but you can’t care about everything all of the time, and trying will only serve to emotionally exhaust you. We can’t always control the things we get exposed to, but we still have the ability to curate how we experience life.
Look for the glimmers
If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of glimmers, the term was coined by licensed clinical social worker Deb Dana to be the opposite of triggers. In practice, what this means is noting all the things in your life that elicit instant joy, delight, safety, and comfort. This can be big or small, but the important thing is actively acknowledging them when they happen.
Our brains tend to focus on the bad stuff – it’s why 10 different people can say you look amazing, but if one says otherwise, that’ll be what you keep thinking about. To combat that, it’s important to seek out the good instead, and focus on connecting with the world around us. You can even make a little game out of it, or maybe a journal prompt, if it will help you remember.
Do things just because
As children, we are constantly being told what not to do. Living harmoniously in society comes with rules, and breaking them has consequences, but we often carry that mindset into adulthood, even when it’s not needed. Sometimes, we even accidentally condition ourselves.
As we grow up, we tend to lose that sense of curiosity and wonder, and start accepting all these rules that we are told are necessary to function, but it’s okay to want to play as an adult, or have “cringe” interests.
When was the last time you decided to learn a new recipe, jump on a puddle, try a different craft, or even just do long division just because? You don’t need to wait for the perfect event, day, or anyone’s approval: if it will make you happy and hurt no one, do it.
Spend thirty minutes coloring, get that dress you have nowhere to wear, do your makeup even though you have no plans to go out, put on a bardcore playlist to help you do chores, garden at sunset, or go frolic in the rain. It doesn’t need to be big, or cost money, as long as it puts a smile on your face.
The secret to romanticizing your life comes down to learning how to protect your peace, choosing to focus on the good instead of wallowing in the bad, and caring much less about what other people think. Really, it’s about intent – you can’t control what happens in the world, or how everyone else acts, but you can change the way you react.
For now, start by considering this prompt: What is something that made you smile today?
Photo: Liza Summer on Pexels