“The pain is in the resistance to reality, not to the reality itself”
My “quarantine extreme” son waves to me from his second-floor window while I make a quick pick up at his home. On the phone, a friend is inviting me to an event, because of course she’s convinced the crisis is a hoax that will end in November after the election. Yeah, not getting roped into a debate over the politics of the crisis, nor how any individual chooses to respond personally. For me, I’ve become intentional about limiting the energy I spend struggling with things outside my control. “Acceptance” is a gift to my mental, physical, and emotional health – a lesson I’ve learned the hard way.
So, while I’m refunding my concert and airline tickets, and searching endlessly for the perfect face mask (right now I’m loving a silk scarf wrapped around two hair ties), I’m also trying to discover the silver lining in this otherwise grey reality.
Here are three “upsides” to the COVID-19 crisis that I have chosen to count as a blessing:
Perhaps the most fun I’ve had during this crisis is watching live zoom events (webinars, forums, media broadcasts, etc.) put on by big reputable organizations that have included kids dancing in the background, internet signal failures (complete with awkward “freeze frames”) and the realization that I was seeing someone’s unmade bed not quite out of view. Our professional colleagues, media personalities and celebrities are all HUMAN – subject to the same issues and challenges as the rest of us. And that reminder is SO liberating. I can turn off the voice in my head that says, “everyone else has got it together except me,” and embrace (even celebrate) our shared humanity.
A month into the crisis I posted side by side photos of our family calendar. March was typically full of colorful scribbled mark-ups impacting almost every day. April was . . . blank.
Just when it seemed that the pressure and pace of life could NOT become more intense, the COVID crisis pulled the plug on everything. At first, there was shock, even panic over all the canceled events, meetings, and responsibilities. Then there was grief over the loss. But somewhere between the struggle and the realignment came, dare I say. . . RELIEF. Is anyone with me here?
We’ve run so hard and so fast for so long that perhaps we had lost perspective on what has become an insane and unhealthy pace of life. I’ve had time to evaluate goals, clean out closets, and go on walks -- all while still getting a crazy amount of work done. COVID has given me the freedom to say “no” to almost everything with no FOMO in sight. In turning down the volume on our schedules, we’ve been able to turn up the volume on our own inner voice and rediscover our true priorities.
Every day in my neighborhood I see families having picnics, taking bike rides, and walking dogs. Instead of lingering at a bar after work, spouses are enjoying dinner together at home. People are well-rested and genuinely connecting. It’s beautiful - like something out of Norman Rockwell. Does anyone else feel like they’ve gone back in time? A Forbes article says sales of board games, puzzles and crafts are up by as much as 1000%. A NY Times article says over 50% of Americans are cooking more and eating healthier. This is definitely true in my house. I have been cultivating relationships with my kids in a very intentional way and I know we will forever look back on this crisis as a time we drew closer as a family.
The Benefits of Gratitude
The COVID Crisis has brought with it many genuine hardships, disruptions, and devastating consequences. No one has been immune. And while these issues are still very real, many are also outside of our control. In a Huffington Post article by Psychologist Randy Kaman on the Transformative Power of Gratitude I found a great list of the benefits of gratitude that for me, addresses almost all the mental and emotional challenges we are facing in the current crisis.
Mine is just a short “starter” list. What benefits have YOU discovered during the COVID crisis? List them, share them and be thankful. Gratitude doesn’t mean you overlook our difficult realities. It is an opportunity to redeem the pain, elevate your own spirit and the fuel the emotional resilience of those in your community.
“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
-Viktor E. Frankl, Psychiatrist, Author and Holocaust Survivor
By Lynne Marian, Chief Marketing Officer, ThinkX
Lynne is a certified professional coach, emotional intelligence expert