Still Pursuing Happiness in a Pandemic

We are still here with you!

Do the tips in the last episode of pursuing happiness still matter?
What should you be focused on now? Why do we feel the way we do?

Listen to this episode and find out!



Nicki Kirlin, Jenna Fortinski


Jenna Fortinski  00:01

Welcome to the simply Jenna podcast. We’re back again.


Nicki Kirlin  00:07



Jenna Fortinski  00:08

 Excited. So Nicki and I had a chat. And we discovered that we’re still pursuing happiness in a pandemic.


Nicki Kirlin  00:20

I know, I feel like that we’re, we’re always on that quest anyway in life. And then with the pandemic, it just seems like that’s multiplied. Yeah. And that it’s even more present, that we are feeling the need to find happiness.


Jenna Fortinski  00:36

Yeah, I agree. So I think we should give it a little bit of a revisit.


Nicki Kirlin  00:41

Mm hmm. Yeah, there’s some questions that I have for you, Jenna, that I think might be in the minds of other folks. And that we could maybe in our conversation, other people might find it helpful to hear some of your your thoughts and perspective. So I’m going to interview you a little bit. And we will say that this is not as prepped as what we usually are. So be kind Be gentle on the spot. And we’re gonna see how this goes. But I have a few questions that I think Yeah, like I said, before, people will might find interesting. So the first thing that I was thinking about was just in a general sense, like, reflecting on the fact that it’s been like we’re over a year now that we’ve been going through this pandemic. What kind of impacts are you seeing from the clients that you are seeing now? What like, What are you? What are you noticing in terms of maybe emotional concerns, physical concerns, or psychological concerns? What are you hearing from your clients the most?


Jenna Fortinski  01:40

I think that what I’m noticing, more so than I ever have in the past is that everybody is really feeling the same thing. So everybody is tired, everybody is just feeling like they are operating at such a high level of stress more consistently, than they ever have. And I think people are frustrated, people are divided. So there’s a lot of big emotions that we’ve been sustaining for a very long period of time. So to me, like I also think a lot of burnout, a lot of relationships that are on the edge or are crumbling, people that are feeling like they can’t perform as well as they used to. So just a vague sense of everybody is just reached their max. And, and I think like, that’s probably the biggest highlight of being in private practice, and, and being a psychologist is that for the first time ever, in my career anyway, everybody almost feels exactly the same way. Which is interesting.


Nicki Kirlin  02:51

Yeah, that’s really interesting. Because, I mean, it makes so much sense that we’re all sort of not like, because it is something that we’ve none of us have ever faced before. It’s interesting that we’re all having a similar reaction. Yeah. To the unknown. And I think everybody is trying their best to navigate it. Yeah. But it’s, it’s interesting how we’ve sort of, you know, we, we’ve all met our limits, and many of us are saying, okay, you know, what, I’m, I’m gonna just commit to getting the help that I need. Yeah, because I can’t navigate navigate this anymore on my own. And I don’t think there’s any shame in coming to terms with that. not accepting that. Definitely not. So where do you think? Like, where’s that coming from the, you know, the sense of division, the sense of, you know, the unknown and on all of those feelings ready? Where’s that coming from? Do you think? Well, I


Jenna Fortinski  04:01

think like, the big glaring red light in the room is, is media, right? So social media. And I think like, access to people’s thoughts more so than ever, in terms of people sharing their opinions, or what they’re doing all the time, and it’s easily accessible and whether you really want to see it or not, it might be coming from people that you know very closely or people that you might be associated with so we’re kind of getting this information almost in an in an unknowingly way. And I think it’s also sitting with us in an unknowingly way. In terms of that the information is coming in into us and we don’t realize how it’s affecting us. And, and so I think that’s playing a huge part on in people when they’re coming in for private practice is that they’re finding that like, Yeah, like, I feel like I’m running on high all the time, I feel like I’m at the end of my rope. I understand that there’s a pandemic, but I don’t understand why I feel like this. And when we kind of tease it apart, we kind of have a better understanding of, well, you know, what’s in the palm of your hand does have a big impact on us. Yeah, yeah. And that quick access. And like I said, sometimes the information is unwanted, or we don’t necessarily know what’s going to come at us at any point in time. And I also think that the, there’s been so many twists in terms in terms of what the media has shared with us so many mixed messages, messages from media messages from government messages from researchers from scientists. So I think people just really don’t know who to trust at this point. And, you know, finding out that, you know, maybe close friends or people that we’re in relationships with have different opinions than us and trying to navigate that, and, and learning how to get past maybe some really strong opinions on certain topics related to the pandemic. So, but yeah, like, I think, media and social media, my goodness, it’s so it’s a blessing, but it’s such a curse.


Nicki Kirlin  06:14

I was just gonna say that, yeah, that I like, I feel like we’re on information overload right now. And, yeah, like social media, and media in general is wonderful for so many reasons. And I mean, we’re using a form of media and we are doing Yeah. So it’s useful and helpful. But in some ways, it’s also harmful was totally if it’s not consumed in the right way, or consumed in a healthy way.


Jenna Fortinski  06:37

So it’s almost like having boundaries. Sorry, I had to cut you off.


Nicki Kirlin  06:40

Yeah, no, and I was just gonna say, That’s almost like, we need to have, you know, boundaries or rules around how we are consuming that information. And then what to do with it. Yeah, exactly. So you’re reading something? And then what are you doing with that information? Once you’ve read it? Yeah. Okay, so then, since our last episode, where we talked about happiness, and finding happiness and the pandemic, what do you think is changed?


Jenna Fortinski  07:05

I think people are tired. Yeah. And I think that, you know, like what we talked about in that first episode, I think it’s still very relevant. I just think that we’re at a place now where we’re feeling like, Can I sustain this, or I can’t sustain that those strategies or those techniques? And, you know, like, I’m trying, and I’m trying, and I’m trying, and that’s what I’m hearing from my clients is that I’m continuing to try but it’s sure is getting hard to try. Right. So I think like, that’s, that’s probably the biggest difference between that episode in today’s episode, is that I, I understand, and I am with each one of those people. Yes. Right. In terms of Yes, it is a struggle. And I think we need to normalize that that it is normal to struggle right now. Yeah. And that Yeah, like I said, at the beginning, everybody is struggling. So yes, it may be a struggle, but it still needs to be done. And, you know, those tips and strategies that we talked about in that first episode? You know, really, all it takes is choosing one strategy, just get that ball rolling, right? And even if you just commit to that one strategy every day or every other day, like we talked about in that episode, you’re still making progress.


Nicki Kirlin  08:26

And it’s interesting to think about it and to reflect on our current situation, because it’s almost like, you don’t really have a choice. Yeah. You know, yeah, exactly. In what we’re living in right now, what we’re doing is survival. Right? So how do we sort of take it up a level and come out of that place of just surviving? Yeah, and make the best of our situation? Considering this is what we this is our normal for right now. We don’t know how long that’s going to be for. Yeah. So how do we how do we make the best of it? Right. Yeah. And I think I agree with you, the strategies that you provided us with in the first episode are really still very relevant and useful. And yeah, because we still have a very uncertain future ahead of us. Yeah, exactly. So what do you think people want the most when we think about getting back to normal


Jenna Fortinski  09:15

connection, okay. Like I know, even for myself, I feel starved for connection. And, you know, we’ve talked about this in a roundabout ways throughout the episodes that we’ve had, I think of when we talk about socializing in an anti social world and all these zoom meetings and talking to people but not connecting. Yeah. And I just feel like we’ve been living in a world where we’re almost like talking at people and not talking with people. And there’s so many rules and regulations around how to interact with somebody that it loses the purpose. Or that sense of I’m connecting with someone? The authenticity? Exactly. Yeah. Yeah. And be genuine. Yeah. All of that. Right. Yeah. And, you know, the the absence, I think now more than ever, you know, as human beings, we’re social beings. You know, we can really see how we are social beings. Yeah, and how much we do crave that interaction. And yes, you introverts are included.



I was actually gonna


Nicki Kirlin  10:29

go down that path. Because I think that is a misconception, right?


Jenna Fortinski  10:33

Yeah. So don’t even like if you’re sitting there saying, I’m an introvert, that doesn’t apply to me, I love the pandemic, I think it’s great. Sure. But, you know, there’s still going to be people that are in your circle that you still want to connect with. And even if it is that one other person in your world, or to other people in your world, we still need to connect. And I think that’s what we’re all you know, starving for is I need that connection, I need that hug, I need that, that sitting across the table from each other enjoying a meal, or, you know, watching a show together, or going for a walk or playing a sport, you know, just connecting with people. And for it to not be through a computer screen or from six feet away.


Nicki Kirlin  11:15

I’m just gonna say we’re thinking in the back of your mind, oh, my God, should I like we should be wearing masks, we should maintain our maintain distance. You know, that’s hard. It’s hard to be authentic and to be your genuine self. And you’ve got that sort of sort of looming over you. Right? Yeah. So how can we maintain our optimism, then when we’re looking at a future that is still unknown? Yeah, how do we how do we face that? How do we still continue to put that smile on our face every day when we wake up and say, okay, just a little while longer? How do we do that?


Jenna Fortinski  11:49

Well, I think the biggest shift that people really need to focus on is is to really shift your thinking from how much longer to how can I enjoy today? Okay, yeah. So really focusing on that mindfulness piece, right being in this moment, right, and to really shift your thinking from what I don’t have to what I do have and what I’m grateful for. And what do I have to look forward to today, maybe you’re making a special meal today, maybe you do have, you know, a zoom meeting planned with a friend, or maybe you’re going to be able to go outside and go for a walk. So really focusing on what’s happening for you today. And to really not put a whole lot of focus on what the future brings. And I think that’s a rule no matter what’s going on in the world pandemic or not, I think it’s healthy functioning for everybody to really just, you know, stay in this moment and stay focused on what’s good about today, and what’s good about right now. And you may have to dig really, really, really deep some days. And I’ve said this to my clients, you know, time and again, is that you might have to say, well, the sky is blue. Right? And if that’s what it is for that day, that’s okay. It’s it’s something right. So really, really digging deep, finding something to be grateful for to be happy for something to look forward to. And yeah, if it just means that you’re going to make yourself an extra special salad, or you’re going to play a game of solitaire, or you’re going to watch a really good movie, just really having your intention set on that rather than what’s the future bring. What do I What am I missing all of those thoughts?


Nicki Kirlin  13:39

And I think like that segues really nicely into my next question, which is, I feel like maybe this is just me personally, I don’t know. I’m sure there’s maybe others out there that are feeling the same way as me. But I feel like I’m putting a lot of value on or are placing, yeah, a lot of value on when things get back to normal. Yeah. Like I’m very much future oriented and thinking like, Okay, well, all I need is just for things to get back to normal. And then I’m going to be happy. So is there a problem? And thinking that way? I know there is. And that’s my question is what what is the problem and thinking that way? And in placing all of your, you know, sort of all of your intentions on the future?


Jenna Fortinski  14:19

Should we do a little bit of therapy? I’m just kidding, usually, pre pre recorded. No, I think that when we have those thoughts, and we’ve really put a lot of weight or value into things that are in the future, more specifically things that are out of our control. We’re really setting ourselves up for failure. And so that’s not really a good headspace to be in. The headspace that we really want to focus on is what am I in control of, and how can I make that my focus? How can I really focus in on this is what I have control over. So I do have control over how beautiful I make that salad. What movie I choose to watch, you know, or you know, where I where I choose to walk today, you know, we’re in Calgary, we’ve got this beautiful benefit of being right beside the mountains, we’ve got lots of green space. So you know, like, we do have a lot of choice and a lot of control in our own lives. And so we really need to shift that focus, like I said, on to what we do have control over, we can’t place our happiness on things that are out of our control. Because so much sun our happiness is within our control. Yes, yeah. So we have to make sure that that happiness aligns with things that are within our control. Excellent.


Nicki Kirlin  15:47

That makes a lot of sense. And in true Jenna style, it’s very simple. Yeah, yeah. Effective. Right. I think, I think what you’re like your message is loud and clear. And it does, it’s, it’s a, it requires a reframe of how we’re thinking, yeah. And I think just because, like, you know, we talked about media in the beginning, and I’m gonna bring it back in here. But it’s almost like the media is forcing us to think that way. And, like, just wait until the restrictions are lifted, and everything’s gonna get back to normal and everything’s gonna be great. Well, maybe not. We don’t know. Yeah. So we’re, we are placing a lot of weight and value on things that we don’t have control over. Yeah, that’s really good advice to not focus on that.


Jenna Fortinski  16:31

Yeah. Yeah. Cuz there’s so many things that we don’t know, exactly. Don’t know what we’re gonna feel like when things open up, you know how it’s going to impact us. So it’s Yeah, it just makes so much more sense to just really bring in those thought processes, and really make it a hyper focus to focus on what’s happening today. What am I happy about today? What can I be happy about? You know, what am I excited for just for today, or maybe even tomorrow? And if you really rein in those thought processes, then happiness seems to get so much closer, and seems to be more within reach at that point.


Nicki Kirlin  17:10

Fantastic. Yes. Excellent. That’s all my questions. Jana. Did I pass?


Jenna Fortinski  17:19

If I was grading you, I’d


Nicki Kirlin  17:20

say you got an A plus. Excellent.


Jenna Fortinski  17:23

I like that makes me happy.


Nicki Kirlin  17:25

Seriously, though, that was that was fantastic. And I think that’s really helpful. So thank you so much for your wisdom, or good advice. Hopefully, our listeners find it helpful and entertaining as well.


Jenna Fortinski  17:35

Exactly. As always, we will close this episode with a quote. This one comes from Eleanor Roosevelt. Happiness is not a goal. It’s a byproduct of a life well lived.