This article was originally published at Rewire.org.
In times like these, it’s hard to think about celebrating good news — even when there’s genuine reason to. No one wants to seem insensitive when millions have lost their jobs or are sick with a deadly disease.
But despite global pandemics, life still has moments of joy; birthdays, babies being born, even social-distance-approved weddings.
Sharon Yu, a licensed marriage and family therapist in Los Angeles, says it’s normal to feel awkward or guilty when you may not be as affected by the pandemic as others, or you have reason to celebrate when others don’t.
“In fear of being perceived as insensitive, it makes sense to feel like you should pull back or hide aspects of your life that are worth celebrating,” Yu said.
While you may have to change the way you celebrate, you can still share your good news. Taking the time to recognize joyous moments during an otherwise dire time can be an act of self-care.
“Celebrating the positives of life during a bleak time can be incredibly important for morale,” licensed therapist Katie Lear said.
“Even when things are stressful, the world keeps turning and life milestones keep coming, and there’s a sort of comfort in that,” she said.
Dr. Menije Boduryan, a licensed psychologist, agrees. “When we are experiencing a special event, we need to give ourselves permission to celebrate. We are not selfish or inconsiderate to be taking care of ourselves while also recognizing others’ pain.”
Dr. Boduryan said it’s still possible to celebrate the good things in your life while recognizing the effects of a global pandemic.
“We can hold space for other people’s pain and difficulties while also honoring our own achievements and milestones,” she said. “One does not have to override the other.”
No matter what joys come in your life, here’s how to celebrate the good things, and share the news in sensitive, appropriate ways.
This may be obvious, but make sure your post or announcement comes from a place of understanding that a lot of people are struggling right now. That shouldn’t stop you from celebrating; just make sure your tone is appropriate.
“When sharing any positive moment with others on social media, I would encourage people to share it so that it can spread joy, hope, and faith to others,” Dr. Boduryan said.
“After all, the reason you are celebrating in the first place is that you want to feel the joy. So it is important to be worded in a way that the same joy and hope you feel can be spread to others.”
Lear agrees. “When you’re writing your post announcing good news, it might help to pay attention to tone. If you’re coming from a place of genuine gratitude, rather than a humblebrag, that will come through in your writing.”
Lear’s words lead right into the next important aspect of sharing good news on social media: sincere gratitude.
“For example, taking a picture with your pantry full of food and pretending to be ‘swimming in a pool of food’ is insensitive to those who can’t easily go to the grocery store due to health reasons or those who simply can’t afford it,” Dr. Boduryan said.
“But if you were to share a picture of you with a birthday cake and in your body language modeled gratitude, then it can be received more openly and with less judgment.”
Take a look at the news you’re sharing — is it a humblebrag, or genuine excitement? If you saw someone else share a similar post, how would you feel?
Lear states it’s important to remember that people may feel a little more sensitive right now and may not be at their best.
“Be generous and patient, and if someone has a strong reaction to your positive news, try not to take it personally,” she said.
“We can’t control how we’re perceived, but we can control how genuinely we share our lives,” Yu said.
“Stay connected with people beyond just posting on social media. Truly connect by asking questions, following up, and giving whenever you can,” she said.
Genuinely connecting with friends and family, whether it’s a phone call or a private message, can go a long way in helping others cope, even when you may have something to celebrate and they may not.
“Intentionally, reaching out to people has never been more important because the pandemic-quarantine life is a lonely and isolating experience,” Yu said.
“The more we’re connected, the less insensitive we’ll feel to each other.”
Unfortunately, you can’t make everyone happy, even with the best of intentions. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t celebrate life’s natural joys though, pandemic or not.
“I also like to suggest that being able to celebrate during a difficult time can be an act of courage and resilience,” Dr. Boduryan said. “It can be a way to stand up against difficult times and say ‘no you won’t hijack my joy, I will still celebrate.’”