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Life / Personal

We aren’t defined by the chaos around us.

We aren’t defined by the chaos around us.

A mile or so down the road from where I live, there is a county-run farm. From the road, all you can see are fields by the entrance road—abundantly green in the spring and the summer, brown and trimmed in the fall and wintertime.  Across the road, a home sits in the distance, a horse pasture in front of it and an old farmhouse nearby.

It’s charming. In certain lights, it’s so beautiful that I (mentally) pinch myself and wonder that I am fortunate enough to live near this gorgeous landscape.

Other times, I drive by without a glance, or with a heavy heart. I can’t see the beauty around me, my mind absorbed in a story about a tweet, or a natural disaster, or two politicians fighting with each other.

Let’s face it. These are very turbulent times. It’s hard not to be affected, even if your welfare isn’t directly involved. We’re anxious, overwhelmed, preoccupied—or just plain mad.

How do we find happiness amid all the remarkable stress of the present moment?

First and foremost, we may need to take a deep breath—and remind ourselves that we aren’t defined by the chaos around us.

We are brothers, sisters, spouses, friends and children. We have network of relationships at home and at work. We are volunteers, or churchgoers, or guitar players, or actors, or painters, or runners.  We pray, we read, we dream.

We are so much more than the newest CNN news alert.

While it would be a bit arrogant of me to tell you what will make you happy, I’m pretty sure that being wholly caught up in the crises de jour isn’t the secret.

It is also true that if we see happiness as the be-all and end-all, we may discover it is elusive.

But there are things that can help make us healthier, more awake and open to the world around us—and perhaps more capable of experiencing joy.

These aren’t my ideas—they are time-honored suggestions, and I offer them in that spirit.

Remember that you have a history, one that made you the person you are today—and a future identity that is yours alone. No one can take that away from you.

Meditate. Pray. Connect with others. Listen.

Practice gratitude, both for the gifts a day offers (a lovely view, a compliment, the right word at the right time) and for those that surround you, like family, friends and community.

Lean on your resources—whether it’s your own resilience, the power of good, or the mercy of a loving God.

And (perhaps the hardest one for me), practice patience. The storms shall pass. Don’t let yourself be swept away.

To use the old cliché—the sun will come up tomorrow.  Make sure your eyes are open to see it.

This post reflects the views of the author, and is intended to start a conversation. Please share your thoughts in the comments below!

Or, if you’d like to hear some overall thoughts on happiness from Christians at THRED, you can find those over here.

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Evans is a freelance writer, columnist and mother of two young adults. Her work has been published in The Philadelphia Inquirer, Religion News Service, LNP Media Inc., the National Catholic Reporter/Global Sisters Report and many other media outlets.

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