Happiness in a time of coronavirus
Today is the International Day of Happiness, which at first sight seems ironic when our world is facing such an unprecedented public health crisis.
But on second glance this feels entirely appropriate as we all grapple with how to stay happy when we are physically distant from each other.
The Harvard Study of Happiness started in 1938 and continues today. It has shown conclusively that close relationships, more than money or fame, are what keep people happy throughout their lives. ‘Those ties protect people from life’s discontents, help to delay mental and physical decline, and are better predictors of long and happy lives than social class, IQ, or even genes.’
We all know that instinctively. What we are not always great at though is nurturing those relationships so that they (and we) stay healthy. ‘Social distancing’ (what a phrase!) seems to threaten all that but in fact people are finding many creative ways to stay connected with the people they love and broaden that circle as they find ways to offer help to friends and neighbours. For my part: I am part of a telephone-tree ringing isolated older neighbours; have joined a 6pm sing-and-dance session with people I have never met, have a virtual dinner party planned this weekend with my children and their partners, and am finally writing those letters and emails to friends who live a long way away and whom I rarely see. My oldest daughter in New York is creating a whole-family book for my little grandson explaining that while coronavirus means we can’t see each other face to face there are lots of other things we can do together to stay connected. In an odd sort of way, I think I’m more connected at the moment than I’ve ever been. The trick will be keeping this up as the days turn into months – which is where we need each other to inspire and encourage.