As we shift fully into summer (in the northern hemisphere), the world looks unlike anything we’ve experienced before. Usually, summer is full of happy smiles, sunbathing, carefree moments of relaxation, travel, beach trips, play, and peace. But this year tapping into joy can be tougher than usual.

A new poll found Americans are the unhappiest they’ve been in 50 years, according to the COVID Response Tracking Study, conducted in late May by NORC at the University of Chicago. Only 14% of respondents said they were very happy, down 31% from the same period in 2018.

During such painful times, the idea of cultivating personal happiness might seem trivial—selfish, even—but it might just be more important now than ever before. But look around you, not on the television screen and what’s being projected or what you hear, but look at what you see in your physical world. I mean look around you right now in this very moment, in your own home, take a deep breath in, feel present in this moment, look around, and appreciate what is going well, and the little things that do matter. You are safe, and you are able to read articles online. Look out the window at the trees and grass, or better yet go outside and let the sun touch your face, breathe in the fresh air—in fact, nature can help you reconnect to your feel-good self.

There’s evidence that positive moods can boost our immune system and can protect us from respiratory viruses, so it’s not something to feel guilty about; it’s a smart strategy.

Nature is healing; the earth itself has a miraculous maintenance flow. Oxygen and fresh air are healing and do wonders to strengthen the immune system. Take a moment to listen to the birds, and feel the love in your heart. Because when we take a moment, as simple as what you just did in reading that, we allow appreciation and this is a form of joy.

Joy isn’t something we have to chase—we simply allow it.

Yet, when so many people seem to be suffering, people are dying, and social unrest is at an all-time high smashed with natural disaster scares, political upheaval and misinformation around every corner, how in the world can we calm down? You may feel guilty for feeling joy or being okay when so much in the world is not okay. But the truth is, when we remove ourselves from the drama of the world, we seek solace within, and start to see that we have more power, more peace and more joy available us, in each and every moment.

If we start to focus our energy and attention to the joyful moments, the people playing in the park, the birds singing, the flowers blooming, the smiles we can give strangers, the Zoom dates with friends, or family nights in, we start to see that we are moving through this time into much more love. Coming together starts with each moment and allowing yourself to feel joy. Because joy is available to us all when we choose it.

The fundamental question we’re all facing boils down to, “Is it okay to be happy right now—despite the situations unfolding and so many suffering?”

It may sound counterintuitive but experts say that seeing the good, despite the bad, is a sign that you’ve got a healthy and balanced approach to your own life and this current—and very challenging—time. Humans are resilient; we are born creative, determined and focused.

So when we focus our energy into solutions, community, collaboration and joy vs. doom, gloom, worry, fear and panic, we shift our entire outcome. And the more people who choose to focus on the good, appreciate what is going well, and help one another with love when we can, the more we collectively uplift each other.

Here are some ways to tap into joy in your own life through this ever-changing time.

Empower Your Empathy

If you’re like me, you have a big heart and empathically can feel others. Right now it is a hard time to be on planet Earth as an empath. The collective emotions can be transmuted but it takes a toll on our energy. We feel into others’ suffering and pain, and oftentimes we take it on as our own. When we take it on without realizing it, it can bring us down and hurt our capacity to actually help others. To really understand your social superpower as an empath, you can empower yourself to empathize with others but have energetic boundaries. Don’t take on the pain and make it your own, because this ultimately doesn’t help. What you truly want is to use your empathic nature to help others, and we can do this by feeling into others but protecting our own energy. Do this by empowering yourself with self-care activities, focusing on your own joy and appreciation. As you do this, you realize how much you can help others by staying in a place of gratitude, hope and happiness.

Turn Your Doubt into Determination

If we have to wait for all the conditions to be perfect in order to be happy, we’re going to be waiting a long time. Perhaps if you think about it, things aren’t, and have never been perfect. I went back to articles and videos I released several years ago, and there always seemed to be some type of traumatic event happening. It seems to be the constant on earth—it’s just that now it feels more intense and heavy. But when we drop from our head into our heart, we can feel the truth, that there is an enormous amount of love and good here on the planet, and it does outweigh the pain. When we turn away from doubt, and refuse to participate in the drama of the world, and see our fear as the illusion of separation from source that it is, we tap into a deeper place within us. One of empowerment and determination. If you are feeling doubtful, you can use your doubt and turn it into activation for clarity, confidence and determination. Believe that we will make it through this stronger, smarter and more connected and full of love than ever before. Because the more of us that focus on the outcome we want to receive vs, what we currently experience, the faster we can all move through this.

If You Aren’t Challenged, Then You Won’t Change

A hard life truth we all learn, and often the hard way, is that challenging things make us stronger. And we get smarter through change. All change will require growth so the more challenges we face, both in our own life, individually, and on a global collective level, the more massive change you can assure is happening. And all change is ultimately for the highest good of all involved. When we have faith in our heart and trust in the unknown, things become easier. Humanity is going through a profound transformation right now. Trust the process and stay in your heart with love.

Reclaim Your Power

We can rise up in our own internal self with the power we have within us. So many of us are waiting for happiness to come in some form of a fix, a news release, a new politician, a new mandate, a new something to take us out of the current misery. But this waiting on the world to change is keeping us in a perpetual cycle and loop of mistrust and misalignment. If we stop waiting for a hero, and realize we are the power and have what we need within ourselves, we can change the entire narrative. Choose your path with live, claim your power.

Embrace It All with Love

I encourage you to look for the joy, humor and excitement among the sadness and chaos. There seems to be a lot of conflicting feelings, but we forget that this is part of being human. Thinking it needs to look one way or we need to feel sad because the world is in such turmoil or we need to be happy and force our way through, is hindering our ability to feel all of the miraculous moments of being human. You can be happy one moment and sad the next. You can have massive energy and want to help serve, then feel exhausted and need more rest the very next… this is all very normal and a healthy way to process this unpredictable time. Let go of needing it to look a certain way and embrace the journey by tapping into each moment with love, compassion and maybe even glimpses of joy.

I’d love to hear from you in the comments, how are you finding joy in this tricky time?

Are you curious about what your ultimate passion is and how to turn it into purpose? Take the FREE Discover Your True Self Quiz here .

To listen to the audio podcast of this teaching click here.