May long weekend on Vancouver’s English Bay Beach: The temperature has finally clawed its way into the 20s and the booming bass from a passing party boat is travelling across the water toward the shore, where Vancouverites have crawled cautiously out of their home and office confines to soak up the long-anticipated sun.
Watching couples intertwined on the grass or weave through the crowd on tandem bikes, it is easy to forget about the recession, job uncertainty and all the other doom and gloom that has so effectively crippled our spirits for months.
And, really, that’s how it should be.
While it may feel reflexive to want to punch a hole through the face of anyone who tells you to cheer up during these tough times, it’s also true stressing over things beyond your control does no good for anyone.
This is not to trivialize the very real hardships many are currently facing. Layoffs, foreclosures, growing debt — these are not things easily surmounted with a cup of gelato on a sunny day.
But once a person has done all they can to move forth, continuing to stew only diminishes the quality of his or her life. It overshadows and saps the joy from the positives there are, it affects relationships — with friends, family and lovers — and can create a debilitating cycle of self-sabotage.
The key, according to psychologists, is a process called savouring: Being deliberately mindful of what you’re doing at the present moment, no matter how trivial it may seem, and luxuriating in it. Not only does this have a powerful effect on one’s outlook and attitude, they say, but on interpersonal relationships as well.
So in the face of troubled times, make a conscious effort to focus on the things that do bring happiness, on a micro level: The taste of a cold beer on a hot day; the warmth of a lover’s embrace; the simmering excitement of a city on the brink of summer.
Happiness, after all, is the journey.