Our lives have become smaller in the past three months than ever. I don’t know about you, but staring at the same four walls day in and day out tests my patience, my optimism, and my strength. I fluctuate between moments of numbing and denial with moments of ready-to-burst panic and confusion. It doesn’t feel easier as the days of self-isolation go on, but more difficult. Is this you, too?
In the midst of troubles, it seems absolutely counter intuitive to focus on what we have, and what we are grateful for. Ridiculous, perhaps. I mean, we’re busy trying to think, plan, and solve our way out of problems. We believe that focusing on solutions will get us out of trouble and into a better tomorrow. And, yes, it will, partly.
But slowing down and intentionally focusing on our blessings, our gifts and resources, is also an invaluable way to open up space for calm, clarity, and creativity. Worry and gratitude can’t exist in our minds at the same time. Worry makes us fear tomorrow, gratitude invites us to focus on the present: the only moment in time that we have any control over or guarantee of. Gratitude is the anti-dote to anxiety. It’s a game-changer.
Gratitude is easy when things are well with life and the world. But what about when everything seems chaotic and out of control? It might be more difficult to find that for which we’re grateful, but that’s precisely when gratitude is most powerful. It takes intentionality and mindfulness to identify that which we can be grateful for. I like to start with the sun. The sun rose for me (and you!) today. I’m so thankful. What are you thankful for? Shelter from the hailstorm? a text from a friend? a comfy quilt to curl up in on the couch? an invigorating cup of peppermint tea? a nudge from a pet who just wants a cuddle?
Focusing on what we have, instead of what we do not have, is a game changer when it comes to our mood and perspective. It allows us to take a break from our worries, fears, or frustrations. It encourages us. It brings to mind the current resources at hand for making it through tough times. We feel stronger, more equipped, and trust that as we’ve made it to this point, we can make it to the next. It improves our health, happiness, relationships, and resiliency in tough times.
All of which work to improve our ability to thrive and survive through the tough times. I encourage you to take a moment each day to think of what you are grateful for. Start a gratitude journal and write down at least 3 things you are grateful for each day. They don’t have to big things, they can be as seemingly insignificant as being grateful for the soft rug underneath your feet or the electricity that powers your reading light. Then, return to these journal entries when you feel discouraged or disconnected. You may be surprised how uplifted it makes you feel.
I am grateful for the opportunity I have to reach out to you and be connected together, through this blog and our shared suffering, amidst this coronavirus crisis. Thank you for standing with me.
You can find a video I produced on this subject here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mqTO79pIXf4&t=112s
A. Check out this link for downloading a time capsule workbook for adults, useful for discussing, processing, and recording your experience of this historical moment on Earth. There’s also a version for kids, if you have them. https://letsembark.ca/time-capsule
B. Four free short videos on coping with the coronavirus (mentally and physically) from Harvard medical school. https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/coping-with-coronavirus
C. Practice a gratitude mindfulness. Many are available on the internet, and/or through mindfulness apps, some are even free. Take a look!