Can Happiness Be Found in the Middle of a Pandemic?
Updated: 3 days ago
By Coach Danyetta
“I’m just looking for a breakthrough!” This was what one of my coaching clients said to me after he shared that he went between bouts of insomnia and other moments of falling asleep at his desk for the fifth consecutive night.
Haven’t we all felt the need to make something happen when things just weren’t going our way or when we’re grasping for a better life? In the middle of a pandemic, aren’t we wondering what good can come out of it?
I have talked to many people who have shared great stories about good things that have come out of the Great Pause we have all found ourselves in. For some, this has been the longest time in their adult life that they have been at home. For others, they were wrestling with adding virtual services to their offerings but now they are a Zoom Pro! And, for others, they have learned a new skill like practicing mindfulness, baking, bread making, or trying new recipes. Others have upped their work out game and have joined the gym or used their local parks as new stomping grounds. Some people are experiencing zoom fatigue and need a break. Social isolation has been a major threat to many people who are already on the fringes, like people with disabilities, experiencing homelessness or poverty. Now, everyone is feeling the sting of social isolation and figuring out ways to stay connected while being socially distanced.
Our culture drives much of what we believe to be the markers of happiness:
“What is the ideal set of external conditions or circumstances that need to exist in order for you to be able to say, ‘Ah, now I’m experiencing that breakthrough’?
A good job
A loving spouse
A home in a good neighborhood
A reliable and nice car
Satisfaction with one’s body image
Satisfaction with one’s looks
Positive family relationships and other close relationships
Attending or have attended the right high school (if you live in Cincinnati, this actually matters!)
Attending a reputable and/or prestigious college/university
A plethora of social outlets from which to choose
A sense of productivity/Achievement
Intelligence, competence, independence
Ways to be Creative and Expressive
As a personal coach, I help people get to know and deeply believe that there is something that wants to be uniquely birthed through them and only them. Sure, there are those with similar goals or who have a similar mission whom my clients can align with, but the work of understanding and appreciating one's own uniqueness and then operating out of that space is a game-changer for most people.
So, I shared with my client that there is something in his mindset that needs to be released - whether it is his own limiting beliefs or scarcity mindset, the unhealthy pressure he has placed on himself, or plain ole’ fear of failure or possibly the fear of success. Whatever it is, it is what we are setting to unpack within our coaching sessions as he sets the agenda for his own learning and growth. As he is able to release these notions over time, then and only then, can something healthy can be born and begin to develop - a healthy and positive mindset and set of practices can take the place of having to make something happen by ineffective means.
“What is the ideal mindset including your thoughts and feelings that need to exist in order for you to act in ways consistent with experiencing a true breakthrough?”
This is an example of how I use my coaching system, Release, Allow, Attract, and Act inside my coaching sessions. Here, we’ve only scratched the surface of the Release part. Shifts in mindsets take varying degrees of time to occur, depending on the person and where they are in their own self-awareness process.
What do you want out of life?
If God or the higher power you believe in, if you believe in one, came to your house and commanded you to be happy and then left, what would that look like for you?
What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?
Personally Define Happiness
What is happiness?
Happiness is an emotional state that is usually based on something external such as a loved one, a promotion, an achievement, or a good grade on a test.
Happiness is connected to mindfulness and being present. The more we are in the moment and we decide to experience happiness, the happier we become. Take some time to practice mindfulness. There are many places to find free or inexpensive mindfulness tools.
Notice people who seemingly have very little by our western world’s standards but they are the happiest on the planet. Why do you think that is? Happiness is an emotional state and more times than not, people from non-western countries have mastered the art of delighting in others and appreciating and valuing what they have regardless of what it is. In fact, it may seem small or insignificant to most in the western world but to someone across the ocean could feel very differently.
Take some time to define happiness on your own terms - like answering that happy directive. Have unwavering joy by being committed to the practices that lead you to happiness. Does your planner or calendar have room for things that make you happy?
Distinction Between Happiness and Joy Is there a distinction between happiness and joy? We know there is a distinction between happiness and sadness - extreme opposites. Maybe that’s how we can check in with ourselves at any given moment: use a happiness scale to help you identify your happiness and understand where you are in the moment from a scale of 0-10; 0 being sad and 10 being happy, give yourself a rating. No one will collect it to grade it and it is only for the moment you are in.
Joyce Meyers once said, if you’re having a good time, don’t forget to tell your face. This is because sometimes we’re so used to doing that we forget to stop and experience just the moments of happiness right in front of us.
What hinders us from being happy?
Problems in life
Bills/High Debts/Lack of money
A job we dislike
Dissatisfaction with our appearance and other perceived flaws
Out of shape
Lack of valuable/marketable skills
Negative social comparison (social media - comparison trap)
A Story About My Entrepreneurial Interest
From as far back as I can remember, I always had an ideas-oriented mindset. That’s why exploring entrepreneurial interests appealed to me early in life. One day, someone from my church in Brooklyn, NY excitedly shared their business opportunity with me. I liked the energy and excitement they conveyed and I was also interested in the idea of the opportunity. So, I accepted their invitation to attend a meeting to learn more. The meeting was packed with people and filled with excitement. I observed people chanting, a rousing chant. Everyone seemed happy or jacked on adrenaline is probably the better term. As an impressionable teenager, I loved that the group seemed passionate about something as mundane as vacuum cleaners! That’s right, they were all pumped up about selling something that cleans your floors and carpets! For me, it was more than that. It gave me something beyond the everyday mundane life of my senior year of high school and church. So, I tried it! I paid the entry cost of being an independent distributor or the like. It helped that my cousin and a few other young people from my church were also involved. After getting all signed up, we would get in a van together, pump each other up with confidence and go door to door in pairs, attempting to demonstrate the power of the vacuum cleaner on the spot! Well, you might imagine what happened next. That lasted for as long as I was able to muster my energy and interest in traveling to places throughout the boroughs to demonstrate the product. After receiving more no’s than yes’s, I let that business opportunity go.
I would go on to explore a stable of other entrepreneurial opportunities including WebTV (way ahead of its time), Neways, and Primerica. They were all over the place in terms of interests but they spoke to key areas of interests I still have today: technology, wellness, and financial. At that time, I was the one who wanted to make something happen and was looking in many places for a breakthrough! As a personal coach who has settled on one core interest of personal and professional growth and development, I now know that I was trying to force a birth - something that is better experienced in a natural next step sort of way once the conditions are set and I have released key preconceived notions. When I was involved in those various opportunities at different times in my young adult life, I thought I wanted to help people but if I was honest with myself, I wanted to help myself more. And, that vantage point, for me, was a recipe for failure because I’ve learned through my coaching practice, that I’m at my best when I am supporting others as a core activity.
What those years gave me was the practice and experience of exploring my interests in entrepreneurship - on my own and without support. Absent was having someone to guide me like a family member in a family business or mentor. My grandmother, Nan, had owned a small restaurant and then a newspaper stand when I was growing up but by the time I became of age to explore my own business pursuits, she was beginning to taper down due to health reasons. She would succumb to ALS. I didn’t have the growth language or knowledge than to fully articulate or ask her key questions about business ownership. My pursuits and interests had not come into full light at that time. Sure, I held a dance routine with my two other classmates in the girls’ bathroom of Harriet Tubman elementary school, and, yes, we charged 10 cents for admission, but does that really count as an entrepreneurial juggernaut?
A Technologist Before I Knew It
After I was accepted into Brooklyn Technical high school, I studied Industrial Design during my junior and senior years. My computer classes had me learning about Dos and how to read and write on floppy disks. I know, I’m dating myself when I say, floppy disks. When my computer had not been used for a few minutes, it would show that multicolored set of geometric images that floated across the screen. Technology was something I always had an interest in so I explored it in college, not as a major nor a minor, though. I had convinced myself that I wanted to study business because of its universal applications. However, for four years at Fisk University, where I earned my business degree, I also worked in the computer lab for my college work-study. This gave me a tremendous amount of skills and learning around computers which makes me fearless to learn new technologies. Later, I would hold classes for my co-workers at the corporate fiduciary bank on how to use basic Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel.
It wasn’t until recently that I realized my love of technology, a power for good, was a loose thread that began in high school, through college and is still present today. I checked my college transcript and rediscovered that I had earned a B in the management information systems class I had taken in 1991, for my business degree credit. Turns out, that was the same time that the internet was at the cusp of being launched into our society as a regular thing. My uncle who raised my two sisters and I had worked for a data processing (now called information technology/IT) company for several years when we were growing up. I’m sure if I had the language or knew how to articulate my interests, or if he had engaged to that level to get to my interests, he would have jumped at the chance to provide me the opportunity to shadow him or to learn from his colleagues or even to bring me along to open corporate events through his work. He would later exit the corporate world and become a marketing entrepreneur which includes working with a Harlem-based theatre company.
Life happened. I worked in a corporate job all while still pursuing entrepreneurial interests part-time because I still wanted to make things happen or experience a breakthrough. Meanwhile, I had discovered coaching when going through a leadership development program at my corporate job. I also began training corporate clients on a work process and discovered how much I loved training and teaching, although I knew I did not want to go into the educational world as a teacher. Another loose thread began to emerge around my love for teaching. While at the university, I also taught Sunday school at my local church. What I found was that I loved preparing materials, learning something new in the process, and sharing what I learned with a group of apt people ready to receive. Then there was the good feeling that came after it was over that stemmed from happy people as a result of what they had just received and a sense of accomplishment from the fruit of my labor. I revisited the materials from the leadership development course I had taken in corporate America including coaching principles and knew that I wanted to pursue coaching as way to effectively serve and help others. I would later take coaching courses through Harvard Business School and the Graduate School of Coaching through Coachville to deepen my learning. The practice of coaching satisfies my entrepreneurial interests as well. I’m able to a coaching business where people or companies hire me to provide coaching services to others. It’s a profession so I learn more about coaching through ongoing professional development as well. When I first began pursuing coaching as a skill and vocation, I attended the first Christian Coaches Network conference in Virginia Beach, VA. Right now, I am satisfied with working in my coaching business part-time while working a full-time job. I would like to be sustained through coaching others but I know there are a lot of factors in order for those conditions to exist. I’ve partnered with an online international coach training school to help them develop coach training modules and I’ve developed my own set of leadership coach training modules. That was right before I married and had my first child and began focusing more on those early parenting years.
Coaching gives me a strong sense of community because I have found many coaches to have kindred spirits! In the coaching community including clients, I have found my tribe of generous, light-hearted people who seem to understand that pursuing purpose can lead you to places only imagined in dreams. Coaching is a viable chance to live out my entrepreneurial dreams of owning and operating a business geared toward helping others. One litmus test I’ve used over the years when pursuing entrepreneurial opportunities is will the idea keep my interest beyond 30-60-90 days or in lean time of the business not bringing in revenue. Coaching has certainly passed my litmus test!
Something else I’ve been a part of has passed my personal litmus test - wellness. I’ve been a satisfied preferred customer and product educator at Melaleuca since 2013 and I absolutely love it! Happiness is a journey, not a destination. There are moments along the way that brings happiness but when you are able to pull together the loose threads of what you discover makes you happy to recognize that it was there all along, that’s deeper than happiness. That’s unwavering joy. Coaching, technology, and wellness all have the elements that made a breakthrough possible and revealed that I was already on that journey toward a breakthrough: a solid community, the ability to help others reach their goals, the opportunity to grow and develop a solid business that I can leave for my children.
Most of us want to have the things that make us happy, do the things that keep those things in our lives, and then force ourselves to be the kind of person we want to be. Let’s reverse it: instead of have, do, be; let’s be, do, and have:
Be the kind of person you want to be in character. Do what it takes to be that person. Have all of the fruits that come with putting it in that order.
Happiness can be found in the middle of a Pandemic as much as it can be found when there isn’t a pandemic. We have an ability to develop a mindset that is not solely based upon external circumstances like a thermometer, but rather, we can set the environment and the tone of how we will be during any situation, like a thermostat.
Let happiness find you! Let a breakthrough find you. Avoid the constant need to manufacture a breakthrough. Something unique wants to be birthed through you! Be prepared and ready for when the set of conditions produce the thing you so desire.
When I was expecting my firstborn child, I had to set the environment in order for the baby to be as healthy as possible while I carried him and at birth. I was given guidance and support from my medical team but I had to do things as well to ensure the baby had a healthy environment. It’s the same with expecting a breakthrough. When we are prepared for the breakthrough, the next natural step is for that “breakthrough” event to occur. We are ready and we have done what we could to prepare including consulting with more knowledgeable people in that area. We trust the process to do what it’s supposed to do.
It’s not going to be perfect, but it will be joyous.