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Rediscover Joy in a Scary World

Posted 10/3/2017 | Be Joyful

By Lauren Littlefield

Like many parents this week, I am struggling to remain optimistic. So many bad, ugly things are happening in the world around us. And while I don't live in Las Vegas, nor do I know anyone directly impacted by the horrific events that played out there earlier this week, my heart aches for those who lost their loved ones, for those recovering and for the city. My heart aches much like it did after Sandy Hook, after the two Delphi, Indiana teenagers were senselessly murdered and after Indiana University student Lauren Spierer went missing after a night out with friends. How can we find joy in such a dark world? How can we encourage our children to dream big while selfishly wanting them to stay inside, away from the danger and the unknown?

I've spent the last couple of days trying to wrap my own mind around what's happening in our country and the whole world for that matter. I've also intentionally searched the interwebs for stories about goodness and people who are truly working to make the world a better place. Because for the first time in my life, not only do I have to make sense of things that seem so senseless for myself but now I have to do it for my two young boys. 

After listening to some podcasts (I highly recommend Oprah's Super Soul Sunday), journaling late at night while everyone is sleeping, and countless hours of Bruno Mars on repeat (hey, it makes me happy!), I've come to four conclusions on how we, as parents, coaches, mentors, neighbors and community members, can rediscover joy and encourage our children to do the same. 

  1. Get back to basics. This may sound too simple, but it really works. When the world is crazy and all you want to do is unplug (your phone, your TV, your life), there's no better place to go than a park. Just wholesome fun which encourages imagination, physical activity, and teamwork. Oh, and leave your phone in the car.
  2. Acknowledge the bad but encourage the good. Yes, bad things happen. No one can deny that; however, we can choose to spend more time talking about the good things going on in this world. Watch Mike Rowe's "Returning the Favor" if you need a dose of there-are-good-people-in-this-world medicine. This episode is my favorite.
  3. Celebrate. We should explain to our children that while there are bad things in this world that make us sad or frustrated, there are also many good things that make us smile. I promise you won't have to look too hard for a few great examples! Just in the past week, we've celebrated a free cookie from the pizzeria down the street, meeting a new friend who wants to schedule a play date and getting to spend some time with great-grandma at a family wedding. So many GOOD things happen each and every day. Let's recognize and celebrate them!
  4. Do good in the face of bad. There are countless ways we can do good in our own communities. Maybe it's volunteering as a family to help out at a local food pantry or soup kitchen, or maybe it's running a 5k to support Girls on the Run! Our children learn how they can positively impact and participate in their community by watching us do it. So next time you volunteer with Meals on Wheels, take your kiddos too. 

So yes, it's hard to find joy when there seems to be so much sadness, anger, and evil in this world. But it's there. It's just not as loud as the other stuff. It takes a bit of effort, not very much though, to find joy. And once you do, it's well worth it. For you and your kids.

"Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul, and sings the tunes without the words, and never stops at all." - Emily Dickinson

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