One of the wonderful initiatives in my Toronto community is the Saturday morning Farmer’s Market. From May to October, a ...
It’s been a month since I released my latest album, Happiness in a Troubled World. And while I have been appreciative of the positive and heartfelt feedback the album has received, having it “out there” has gotten me to think more deeply about specific practical things I’m doing to stay happy in these troubling times.
Despite all this misery, my family and I have managed to continue maintaining all the basic necessities of life – shelter, food, water, and my livelihood to pay for all those things. If I manage to maintain all these things in times like this, why would I even need to bother thinking about my own happiness? Shouldn’t I just naturally be happy?
Well for someone like me with a history of battling depression, I have to “work” at happiness. I’ve always been amazed that literally anything can trigger depression. Those triggers can sometimes be of a dramatic or traumatic nature, but other times the triggers could be what most people think of as the frivolous or overreacting kind.
So to avoid falling into the doldrums, I work at happiness. With all the bad news in our present world and the limitations we all still face, I have found myself working at it even more this past year.
Here’s a breakdown of what I’ve been trying to do to stay happy…
1. Keep busy. Keep my mind occupied. Composing music is my job, but it’s also my passion. I find that on the days where I have other tasks I must do that don’t involve composing, I find it a lot harder to get through the day. Do what you love.
2. Eat healthy food. For me, that means cooking. It’s a lot of work but worth the time. My heart goes out to all the restaurants that have been impacted by the pandemic but I was not eating out a lot before the pandemic. I have spent a lot of time and money to figure out what specific fuel my body needs, and which ones I should avoid. The list is pretty specific but it’s worth it. Now if I can only get restaurants to cook exactly what I need.
3. Drink water…Stay hydrated
4. Sleep (with no gadgets in the bedroom)
5. Go for walks so I get a change of scenery and burn off steam so it’s easier to sleep at night.
6. Connect with others. I so miss seeing people in person. But video chats, emails, and messages are the next best thing. Every time I visit with a friend or colleague this way, I get reminded that the world is more than just about me. After hearing other peoples’ experiences, I realize that we all have the same hopes, dreams, and fears. Empathy is a powerful thing.
7. Plan for the future. Even if they don’t happen because of circumstances beyond my control or if my focus changes direction, it’s still nice to hope for things that bring me joy.
My new album is based on the teachings of the Dalai Lama. If there’s only one takeaway from working on this latest album it is that no matter how much I want to be a positive force for my loved ones, community, and the world, I can’t if I’m not a positive force for myself…basically, I can’t make the world happier if I’m not happy myself. For me, it’s not an either/or situation…you’re not either completely happy or completely sad. There are varying degrees. For me as long as I work hard at it and the pendulum leans more towards the happy side, I’m doing a good job, both for me and the world.