Joy in a Time of Coronavirus!

Originally written and posted on

Patrice Tanaka, Founder & Chief Joy Officer, Joyful Planet LLC 

At his daily press conference yesterday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who has been a steady voice of calm and reason during the COVID-19 pandemic, talked about the importance of creating joy in this challenging time. To underscore Governor Cuomo’s recommendation, we’re re-publishing Patrice Tanaka’s recent post, “Joy in a Time of Coronavirus,” which has attracted attention from many readers since it first ran on March 20.

I did a podcast Sunday because the interviewer thought I could bring some much-needed joy to his listeners in this stressful time of coronavirus.

I responded that I can’t just sprinkle joy on his listeners, but I can help them UNLEASH their own joy by helping them discover and actively live their purpose. This is the best way I’ve found to create long-lasting, sustainable joy that buoys me even during challenging times like these.

We can create “moments of joy,” I told the podcaster, by doing things like walking in nature or enjoying a luxurious massage, but these moments quickly dissipate unless we have a way to “sustain” our joy.

Discovering and actively living our purpose is the best way I’ve found to sustain joy. Living our purpose is energizing and life-affirming because we are leveraging our talents, expertise and passion in service of other people and our planet.

We discussed that right now people are feeling a lack of agency because of COVID-19 and what did I recommend they do. I said that they might spend some time now, when they’re self-isolating or in quarantine, to discover their life purpose. Without a purpose we are often just reacting and responding to outside stimuli all the time. And because of this, we are vulnerable and susceptible to any “distraction” that comes along, including COVID-19.

Of course, we should do what’s necessary to protect and keep ourselves and others safe, but we can’t just stay tuned 24/7 to the COVID-19 Channel. If that’s our focus, we won’t have the time or energy to accomplish what really matters to us.

Years ago, an executive coach I turned to forced me to “rethink” my purpose in life when I was so depressed, I could barely get out of bed each morning. Two weeks later at my next coaching session I shared with her that: “My purpose in life is to choose joy every day, to be mindful of that joy and to share that joy with others.”

That was 18 years ago. From the moment I shared my purpose and began to actively live it, my life took off on an exciting and unexpected journey that continues to this day.

I continue to live my purpose every day. In fact, during the past week, I’ve been busier and feeling more joyful than ever, helping non-profits I’m involved with strategize about how to fundraise and deliver our mission in a time of coronavirus and how we seize the “opportunity,” yes the opportunity, to improve the way we do both during this crisis and beyond it.

This has involved some enjoyable, creative problem-solving with like-minded others that has left me little time to obsess and fret about COVID-19. I actually feel very energized by the work I’m doing for organizations who’ve all been negatively impacted by the coronavirus despite my spending much of last weekend on focused thinking and writing these plans.

This past week, I also agreed to co-lead two exciting initiatives around “diversity, equity and inclusion” that are hugely meaningful to me, which I know will bring me great joy.

Surprisingly, as some of my upcoming speaking engagements fell away, I picked up several new opportunities to conduct my “Discover Your Life & Leadership Purpose” workshop in a virtual way because of the coronavirus.

Right now, I’m too busy to be stressed about COVID-19. As one of those most vulnerable to the coronavirus because of a compromised respiratory system, I could easily allow myself to stress out. The way I look at it, if I’m one of the casualties of COVID-19 it’s okay because while I was alive, I focused on doing what mattered most to me. So, I’m good to go.

Living our purpose is how we STAY FOCUSED on what matters most rather than being distracted by whatever comes along, including the coronavirus.

The podcaster asked, if someone is having a tough time how can I bring joy to them? I told him you should counsel them to replace the “noise in their head” and the “fear in the heart” with a focus on what matters most to them and tell them to do that, instead.

I shared with him the significant research, revealing that individuals with a life “purpose” tend to live longer and have healthier relationships. They’re also less likely to develop sleep problems, have a heart attack, or die prematurely. All the more reason to live your life purpose and support your immune system.

Once the coronavirus subsides, he asked, should people focus on discovering their life purpose? A crisis is actually a good time to focus on discovering your life purpose, I said. A crisis certainly helps to crystallize what’s important and what isn’t.

As a gift to the CommPRO community, I’m happy to help anyone interested in discovering their purpose so they can begin to actively live it and unleash their full potential and greater success, fulfillment and joy during a time of coronavirus and extending far beyond it.

Just email me: and I’ll be happy to send you the 11-question “My Life Purpose Questionnaire” I developed to help people think through the questions that will lead them to their life purpose.

I’m excited to help the CommPRO community discover and live your life purpose so that, together, we can create a more joyful planet, which is my vision of 7.7 billion people living their purpose and leveraging their talents, expertise and passion in service of other people and our planet.

Peace, Love and Joy,

Patrice Tanaka
Chief Joy Officer
Joyful Planet LLC

About the Author: After an award-winning PR & Marketing career and co-founding three agencies, Patrice Tanaka started Joyful Planet, working with individuals and organizations to discover and actively live their purpose and unleash greater success, fulfillment and joy in their personal lives, in their workplaces and in their communities. Life and organizational purpose are the subjects of Patrice’s best-selling books, Beat the Curve and Performance360. Patrice has been honored by PRWeek (Hall of Fame inductee), PRSA Foundation (Paladin Award), PRSA (Paul M. Lund Award for Public Service), among others. Reach Patrice via LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

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