If you’ve read any of my books, then you know that the secret of happiness is falling in love with virtues, and practicing them every chance you get.
Unfortunately, many virtues, such as kindness, courtesy, mercy, and many forms of service only make sense when we are interacting with other people. How do you practice virtues when you are alone, or with the same few people every single day?
The last 6 months of quarantine have required us to increase our reliance on some virtues, such as hope, patience and resilience. These help us get through the hard times.
But what virtues could we focus on that might actually turn this time into a joyful experience? I’m not talking about “being more productive.” I’m talking about being more enthusiastic about life.
An excerpt from Love, Lust and the Longing for God.
“One of the insights that would have helped me get through [isolation] is the realization that part of my need to be around people comes from my need to practice virtues. What I know now is that there are many virtues that do not require the direct presence of other people. When I am feeling lonely now, I focus on virtues like creativity, curiosity, knowledge, faith, perseverance, gratitude and many others.
“My first therapist gave me an assignment of spending one hour a night doing something creative. Since I’m an artist and writer, you might think this would be something I did all the time anyway. It is strange, though, how, when we are lonely and depressed, we tend to avoid doing the very things that we know make us happy. Creativity is a virtue, and also one of the core attributes of God, so allowing ourselves to express our creativity helps fill the void we feel when our longing for people overshadows our longing for God.
“There are also virtues that can be expressed towards people, but at a distance. Research has shown, for example, that writing a letter of gratitude to someone in our past can improve our mood for months, even if we don’t deliver it to them face-to-face. This is because practicing a virtue draws us closer to God, even if no one ever knows about it.”
What other virtues can you practice on your own?
Look at the list above. Think about how you are feeling right now. Would any of these virtues be helpful? Do any sound like fun? What would they look like when practiced alone in your home?
Need help choosing a virtue to focus on? One a day or one a week, these Character Coins can help.
Have 6 months of isolation made your head a little fuzzy around the edges? You aren’t alone. Many people are having difficulty focusing and making decisions. You know that practicing a virtue will help get you out of this funk, but even the simple act of choosing one can seem insurmountable. These can help. Or try our Virtue Reflection Cards. They come in a satin pouch.
Creativity is a great virtue to practice during this time. Pictures, poems, stories, songs, quilts, gardens – they don’t have to be good or serve any purpose. They just have to be generate some enthusiasm for living.
To help you get started, we have coloring books, crayons, cookie cutters, stickers and more.
I also highly recommend curiosity. Again, not for the purpose of learning something important, being productive or accomplishing something external, but simply for its own sake. Explore something completely random just because curiosity leads you there.
Let’s do more than survive this pandemic. Let’s thrive.