START WITH A SMILE!
“Peace begins with a smile.” – Mother Teresa
Recently, I bumped into one of my youngest son’s high school friends who is now a sophomore in college. It was so great to see him, we both totally pretended to forget the non-hugging norm, and we hugged one another. It was not a fist bump or a reassuring nod. It was a full on, enthusiastic, glad to see you hug! In that moment of being human, we both felt at ease, and we quickly bypassed the fact that we hadn’t seen one another in over a year and instead of wasting precious moments on idle chit-chat, we immediately began to share our observations of how the pandemic has affected life for young people. He expressed heartfelt concern for his generation. He felt the new rules of Covid protection (social distancing, masking, virtual learning, and the basic halting of people gathering) had spurred extreme anxiety and depression amongst young people. He confided he is so genuinely concerned about how adversely the feeling of being separate has become, that he was pondering forming some sort of non-profit foundation to address these concerns. He wanted to somehow let his peers know they are not alone, that they matter, that they are cared for, that they will emerge post-pandemic WHOLE if they stay true to their emotions and honor their own vulnerability and allow for closeness and connectedness even if it’s not the same as it was in the past. He had begun asking the question, “ARE YOU HAPPY?” to his friends and acquaintances to initiate conversations on a heart level versus a head space of “WHAT’S NEW?”. We both happened to be volunteering at the same outdoor event so we had to get back to our stations, but I left wishing I had shared a few more of my own observations. Allow me to share them with you.
1. It’s not just our youth who are struggling. Most of the people I know from ages 2 – 92 are aching for human touch and the freedom to love their youngest to their eldest family members freely. It’s okay to admit you’re sad you can’t see and hold your grandbabies or children or friends! We are biologically wired for human closeness and even if and when our brains make peace with our choices not to gather, our hearts still yearn to connect.
2. Foundations of all sorts are wonderful, but we don’t need an organization to start healing ourselves and others. We start with aligning ourselves with our Divine nature. We do whatever we need to do to fill up our own tank of love. Meditate, Walk, Garden, Play Music, Create Art, Do Yoga, Observe Nature – do ANYTHING that connects you to your higher self. You will know you are tapped in when you feel more peaceful and loving and kind. From this heart space, reach out to others. Texting or emails are fine, but phone calls and outdoor walks are divine. We are a species that vibrate electromagnetically and when we are actually TOGETHER, we feel better. We feel more reassured, more calm, more connected. (Just ask any toddler who starts out in their own bed at nightfall and ends up in mommy and daddy’s bed by the morning!).
3. It is best to acknowledge our feelings as what we deny we actually plant deeper in our bodies only to resurface as a physical ailment. Stress often presents as stomach aches, migraines and fatigue. What we don’t address can become our dress. It is not always necessary to identify every source of emotional discomfort. This in itself can be draining. Instead, just notice how you FEEL. If you feel stuck or sad, acknowledge it and offer it a chance to speak up internally so you can decide how to handle it. You can talk it out or literally shake it off! Stand up and shake your arms and legs. Let it OUT! Our bodies are meant to MOVE! Even a short brisk walk can do wonders! Remember feelings of happiness keep our heart healthier, boost our immune system, increases our endorphins (less aches and pains!) and even lengthens our lifespan.
When I reflected on the brief and upbeat conversation I had with this remarkable young man, I felt so optimistic for our future generation. He has had his share of loss and challenges, yet he stood before me, confident, content, clearly KNOWING he has a purpose and trusting the plan will reveal itself. He recognizes that emotional intelligence is the foundation for our well-being. May we all remember that it is in the smallest gestures of kindness that healing, peace and joy begin to emerge. Let’s smile at one another. Temporarily, the masks may cover our smiles. But our eyes will shimmer with light that the smile inspires.
With love and smiles, Diana
Diana Stone, M.A., is a Wellness Consultant and inspirational writer and speaker. Connect with her at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.dianalynnstone.com