I work at an Elementary school in an urban area, where most of my kids come from varying types of dysfunction. One day as I was working I realized that one of the few things that unites everyone is that in life everyone encounters personal tragedy: be it addiction, loss, mental illness or the like. Everyone at one point or potentially many points in their life has felt sorrow for some period of time. It is a universal experience and I say this not to minimize your own personal struggle at all.
I was having a discussion with some of my students and the topic switched to myself and one particularly shy kid said “Mr. Luke, you laugh all the time even when you should be mad at us and it makes me feel like everything will be ok” (paraphrased for brevity and coherence which a grade schooler sometimes lacks). What he said struck me as being very profound at this juncture in my life, as I am currently joyful and my own personal joy can be a small comfort to the people I encounter. I never realized that allowing someone to see joy as being an acceptable emotion could be so impactful. Especially since a lot of these kids come from backgrounds where they are treated like burdens or survival is the only thing on their mind.
I guess in conclusion I’d just like to stress if you are struggling look for joyful people to be around, it might not cure what ails you but they will let you borrow their light for a minute and that can be rejuvenating. My parents are one of the main reasons I’m ok because their joy gave me a respite in times when I wasn’t so stable. If you are in a position to be joyful I urge you to laugh freely, be compassionate, and have more empathy (because you have felt the pains of tragedy). If you are not that’s o.k., when it comes back pay it forward because you don’t want anyone else to hurt the way you have.