If you are like me, you may feel like you are living in some sort of movie or alternate universe. It may seem in light of the Coronavirus Pandemic, that your every day reality is changing faster than anything you've ever experienced; faster than anything you are ready for. And with all the sensationalizing happening in the media, and all the panic ensuing, our lifestyles have swiftly become unrecognizable and anything but normal. You may not feel liberated in the supposed land of the free as you are being restricted beyond anything you've could have ever thought possible or imagined. You may be going stir crazy. You may be filled with anxiety and depression over impeding dooms such as a loss of income or possible illness for yourself or your loved ones. You may be bored. You may be filled and crippled with fear. You may be rolling your eyes at this whole social distancing movement and the worry over this virus. You may be brimming with criticism about our government entities and how they are handling their people. BUT, now is NOT the time for any of that! Now is the time to slow down. Now is the time for gratitude.
Mindset is everything. You can change it! You can redirect your thoughts to ALL your blessings (because they are immeasurable). You can focus on and align with the good. You can change up your attitude and behaviors to reflect faith not fear. This my friends, is the key to getting through any of life's many curve balls (God, I miss baseball lol).
One of my favorite quotes that I tend to write everywhere is by the the famous poet Maya Angelou, "If you want to change the world, go home and love your family." This just moves me every time I read it, and now especially in these times. The truth is, most of us have veered off the path of 'family first', so much so that even being able to understand and support the meaning of this quote seems somehow offensive in this modern world. Our spouse and our kids have taken a significant back seat to the all mighty dollar. Seeking out all the material things to fill our lives with has become much more fun, interesting and important than pouring into and using our resources to connect with the people right in front of us. When is the last time you invested in a date night or a family vacation? People's reactions to having to stay home with their children right now, and push their careers or interests aside for the time being, just proves my point. Staying home is not being embraced as a blessing by a lot of people, but instead a punishment; a control tactic. We have gotten so lost in ourselves and what fulfills us as individuals, that our families tend to look more like roommates cohabitating under one roof instead of an actual family unit doing life together. This has become our comfort zone; our normal. I believe that this is the time to embrace a simpler life. This is the time to check in on the humans we are raising up to be our next leaders, because at the core, our family life is where the real power of the future lies. This is the time to rekindle romance and connection in our marriages. This is the time when we actually have time to focus on relationships. I can not think of anything more important or fulfilling than that! Let us all be grateful for the connections and bonds that can be strengthened in a time where we are not so easily able to be so self-focused and distracted.
Most people I know are living in abundance. We have ALL the things, and then some. There is real worry about a lack of income, but when I sit and think about it, we all really need very little to live. Now is the time to refocus from overabundance to necessity. Now is the time to adjust our expectations and plan for our financial futures. Cut the fat. Save. Get rid of things that you can't afford, and pass on to those in need that which you can live without. Now is the time to bless others with our bountifulness. Really, I think that we would all be happier if we stopped living and seeking out a life above our means, and start truly having a heart of gratitude for what we have. We all have a lot, more than we need. We all have more than someone else. That should move you.
Enter the gratitude list. When you are being challenged to be grateful for what you have, the best thing to do is to list it all out so that you can actually see your blessings! Sometimes you have to sit down and be intentionally thoughtful to overwhelm your mind with the good (then it can't be ignored). Here are some ideas of what your gratitude list may include: Grateful for your health. Grateful for your children and spouse. Grateful for your pets. Grateful for your home and everything within it. Grateful for the skills you have (which you should absolutely put to use during this time). Grateful for all the parts of your able body; (honor them with exercise and actively seeking a healthy lifestyle). Grateful for running water, electricity, heaters, blankets, coffee, friends, family, your neighbors, the food you eat, the screens you watch, the phones you have, and the opportunities that DO lie withing this difficult time to better yourself and those around you. Grateful that God is bigger than anything and that He is not coward, He does not live in nor instill fear. There is so much good that can come from focusing on your home life and focusing on your relationship with your Maker! Be grateful for every moment you have to do so, and recognize the blessings that WILL come from it. Furthermore, I would assert that there is not enough time in the day to pour into all the goodness around you, all your blessings (even in your own home). There's not need for boredom.
If you are having a hard time coming up with things to do when it seems like you can't go do anything, here are some ideas: pray, read your bible, play with your kids, teach your kids all the household duties and support their education by seeking out online resources, read with your children, draw or paint, play games, break out puzzles, build forts, bake and cook, clean your house, do ALL the laundry, fix what is broken, start a garden, learn a new skill, go for a walk or hike, watch movies, write, talk on the phone and catch up with your friends or family, build a resume, check in with your church to see if there are needs that you can meet, get out there and deliver groceries to those who can't go outside, check in with the elderly around you and see how you or your family can help, have date nights in with your spouse and be creative, hand write letters and mail them, exercise (outdoors or in home or both), go for a drive, learn a new skill, revisit an old hobby, read all the books, take pictures, organize your home, plan your retirement, create a budget, start saving every penny, research things you are curious about, journal (this is a great thing you can also have your kids do - it'll be fun for them to look back on one day). The more you pour your efforts into the things above, the more you will find days are flying by and your focus shifting to a more meaningful relationship-building, centered lifestyle. Some people I know are scheduling out their days so that boredom isn't an issue and so every day is filled with substance instead of 'I don't knows" lol. People with a plan seem to have more of a handle on success and happiness.
You have the choice to sit in despair, misery and distress, but you also have the choice to flip your script and relearn what it means to actually live, what it means to actually be happy. Happiness lies within the relationships we have with God, our family, our friends, and with ourselves. Money and all the stuff is not going to go with you when you die. "Stuff" rusts, deteriorates, gets weathered, used up, old and eventually can become worthless. When you are gone, your legacy will be the love that lives on through those people whose lives you have touched. Your heart of gratitude will be impressed upon the hearts of those you leave behind, and in turn, carried on in the happiness of others forevermore.
If you are sitting at home right now with a "this sucks" mentality, then your life will, in fact, SUCK for you and those around you. Is that fun? Is that fulfilling? Do you want the rest of your household to suffer because they have to live with you and your bad attitude? Would you allow your children to behave with such a sour disposition? If not, put your negativity away, and tap into a heart of gratitude. When you speak: speak of gratitude, speak in kindness and speak encouraging words into each other's lives. Do not make your misery the rest of your households reality. Right now we can't escape one another. We are being called to embrace and honor our relationships so make it count in the best way!
Go live in gratitude and find your happiness.
Peace and Love,