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Pandemic leads to people craving happiness

In a time of quarantine and social distancing, people are searching for any reason to smile – even if it's through someone else's magical moment.

MINNEAPOLIS — Someone once said smiles are contagious. And, over the weekend, I shared a video on Facebook showing the moment I said “yes” to forever with the guy I love. 

But the other surprise following the proposal was the flood of messages from people who watched the video.

Liz wrote, "This is the uplifting story we needed this weekend!!!!"

Natalie said “This pandemic is really devastating. I’m counting little blessings each day. Your engagement brought some light.” 

And Rebecca sent a voice message through Facebook saying in part, “That made me tear up. I am so glad you shared the video on Facebook. I am sharing it everywhere because it makes me happy. Congratulations! "

Engagements happen all the time. But what was it about ours that made people smile and happy?

According to a COVID Response Tracking Study, Americans haven't been this unhappy in 50 years. The study was conducted in May by NORC at the University of Chicago.

Sidney Tompkins is a licensed psychotherapist and an ordained minister. She said people are searching for happiness while confronting a world of hurt. 

"To go through the trauma with George Floyd. Secondly, we are facing incredible strife in our country, wearing masks and social distancing and anything else," she said. "There are plenty of people who are just absolutely overwhelmed by this."

Our new normal is leading folks to intentionally look for something  positive. She keeps a photo of her dog, Francine, on her phone. 

 "I tell people you need something happy to remind people you are alive," she said point to the image of her puppy.

And, Tompkins watches birds in the yard. She smiled as she shared a story about one bird recovering after injuring its wing.

"That is not like getting engaged but it is being engaged in what is going on," she said. "We are having joy and happiness in doing the least little things."

Because the little things can lead to big moments.

"I think one of the things we lose sight of is we stop looking at the little things. For years and years, I have talked to people and helped them recognize the importance of being mindful of the moment you are in," she said. "As long as you can be in the moment it makes a huge difference."

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