It’s tough staying positive with wave after wave of bad news hitting you from all sides on an hourly basis.
Unemployment in South Africa is at an all-time high with 10.5 million people out of work. This includes those who have stopped looking for work. We rank as one of the counties with the highest unemployment rates in the world. We have the 3rd highest in Africa and the highest of all the countries in the G20. Spain is second-highest and their unemployment is less than half that of South Africa.
Good reasons to be glum as a South African.
To further compound the situation, inequality in South Africa is the highest in the world. The gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots’ is wider than it has ever been. The poor are getting poorer, and the middle class is shrinking. A mere handful of the population, are thriving. Our economy has been pedestrian for some time and is not showing signs of improving soon.
The perfect ingredients for a ‘downer-party.’
There are 800 000 matriculants busy writing exams around the country. Many will be entering the workplace when they graduate. Those that are fortunate enough to have the funds, and be accepted, will go on to study at a tertiary institution. Their hope is that adding to their knowledge will give them a slight advantage in such a highly contested job market. There are hundreds, if not thousands of applicants, many of them graduates, vying for each vacancy. Internships and apprenticeships are scarce, and most are filled immediately by the top students. The prospects for our youth is declining daily.
Most would agree, the outlook is bleak.
Shortly after his first birthday, my grandson became terrified of bathing. He used to love his bath. He would splash around in the water, soaking his face in the process. One night he started crying the minute he entered the bathroom. By the time he was undressed, the tears were streaming down his face. He even lifted his little legs and feet as you lowered him, to escape the water. No one could explain his sudden fear of water. We guessed, speculated and posited a range of theories on what could have caused his sudden phobia.
Each night at bath time, he would start to cry, with terror in his eyes. After a few nights of having to wipe him down with a damp cloth instead of bathing, his mom decided to try something different. She made a bubble bath. When he saw the bubbles, his eyes lit up and with a huge grin started pulling at his clothes. He couldn’t get his clothes off fast enough to get into the bath.
Adding bubbles made bath time fun again.
Amidst the doom and gloom, we need to find our ‘bubbles.’ What is it that makes us happy regardless of our fears. One of the easiest and quickest ways, is to start being more grateful for what you already have. Simple as it sounds, but being grateful, when practised daily, is proven to physiologically lift your spirits. And when that happens, your body follows, it has no choice. As you start to feel better, you are ‘rewarded’ with a release of dopamine and endorphins, more of the ‘feel-good’ hormones. The upward spiral is self-perpetuating.
You can be grateful for something small and simple like sharing a cup of tea with a friend, or something broader like being grateful for freedom. When you start looking for reasons to be thankful, you’ll also notice you start to need less stuff. Gratitude asks you to be humble and loose ‘the ego.’ Being generous is a byproduct of being grateful.
Gratitude and generosity go together like ‘bath time and bubbles,’ the one complements the other.
If you had to get down to it, our list of problems is a lot shorter than our gratitude list. That in itself is enough to be happy about. Look around you, there are many other healthy ways to lift your spirits. Me, I’m just adding bubbles.
Have an awesome weekend! 😄