Are we forgetting to celebrate being alive?


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St. Boniface

Have you ever stopped to ask yourself how much of your life is spent smiling, laughing or, dare I say, being joyful?

As a writer, avid news reader and social media user I know how easily I can become overwhelmed by and disillusioned with the state of the world. Why wouldn’t we want to bury our heads in the sand, or take up habits to numb the resulting sorrows that come with the barrage of awful news? Every. Single. Day.

One thing I’ve noted, especially as I approach my 60th birthday, is that there’s a distinct lack of joy in the news, whether on television, radio, newspapers, or social media. Imagine what’s happening to our brains and hearts as we’re bombarded with only the abundance of serious stories, and disturbing, controversial content. War, famine, natural disasters, social and political problems, suffering: these exist, but so do other things.

Lately I’ve been asking myself where’s the joy, the laughter, the kindness, the silliness? They’re out there too but they’re a lot harder to find in the news, on social media, or anywhere. Besides the cute cat videos there are occasional stories about people doing good things. But alas, they are painfully rare.

I think many of us are becoming conditioned to be fearful, serious, political about everything. On guard. Are we forgetting to celebrate just being alive?

I’ve worked and lived with people from around the world and have come to recognize that even in countries where people live with few resources, where there is great suffering, there is also rich and generous contentment and joy. The importance of a strong sense of community, celebrating the little things and taking the time to give attention to those things that make us happy results in increased well-being.

An elder from East Africa told me once that isolation and loneliness are very rare in his homeland. People look after each other and focus on happy things. A young woman from a war-torn country who’d been here for a while said she’d rather return, despite the extreme hardships of her country of origin, because she had a community around her there – she never suffered alone as she did here. One of the international students who came to live with us from a developing country asked me why so many people often look unhappy here.

“People have so much to be grateful for,” he said.

It was hard to know what to say.

Those moments of beauty and delight will always still exist despite all the hardships in this world. But might they not be equally newsworthy? As we approach a new season, may we find relief for our tired minds and hearts, and more reasons to smile.

Janine LeGal

Janine LeGal
St. Boniface community correspondent

Janine LeGal is a community correspondent for St. Boniface.

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