Political chaos, civil unrest, a deadly global pandemic — I'll take just about any happiness I can get my sanitized hands on these days. Here are some tangible ways I'm making an effort to enjoy the little things.
Become a regular
In the early days of COVID-19, there was a big push to shop and eat local, but the drive slowed as weeks went by and long-term finances came into question. If you're able to spend every dollar locally, by all means, do it. But if not, try hyperfocusing your efforts. Visit the same coffee shop once or twice a week. Get all your quarantine reads from the same bookstore. Become a familiar face for a local business, build a relationship and offer stability where you can.
Add a favorite photo to your workspace
Hitting deadlines seems nearly impossible some days with so much vying for our mental and emotional bandwidth. To lighten things up, bring in a memory that makes you smile. Finally print and frame that old photo of your niece on Junction Bridge or that masked-up selfie with your mom and set it within your line of vision as you work. Not only will it serve as a reminder of the goodness that still exists in the world (especially when your deadlines seem particularly nefarious), but also of the reasons to be as safe and socially responsible as possible.
Take a different route
We're about eight months in now and the regular walks that were initially encouraged for mental health reasons are still a part of my routine. And as much as I enjoy watching the seasons gradually transform the now-well-known views, changing up my route, even if just for a few blocks, brings a micro dose of adventure. Unfamiliar sidewalks broken up by tree roots? An elaborately painted mailbox? My 2020 brain loves it.
Find a new nonprofit to support
Like local businesses, nonprofits have taken a huge hit during the pandemic. And while I know you probably already have your favorite local charities, I encourage you to find a new one — like a smaller, lesser-known organization where every dollar counts — and give what you can, whether it's money, time or simply your voice. A lot of our neighbors need help, and a lot of folks are stepping up to fill those needs. Spread the local love accordingly.