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How to Keep Calm and Carry On

Life is uncertain. We know that. What we don’t want to admit is how quickly uncertainty can morph into fear, worry, and panic.

Waking this morning to the reality of a global pandemic, while learning what that means brings new meaning to uncertainty. And in all of this, we’re supposed to keep calm? Carry on? Nice words, but how?

Fear and Panic

Fear is the enemy

Fear leads to stress. And stress leads to the breakdown of mental and physical health.

Fear skews our common sense, clouding our decision-making. Unfounded fears lead us to do really dumb things. Fear can so easily lead to depression as we rehearse over and over in our minds every possible thing that could happen. Fear and greed are very close cousins. Together they can lead to panic, and that leads to no good!

Gratitude is the antidote

Gratitude, the conscious and heartfelt expression of appreciation and thankfulness, is the number-one best antidote for dissatisfaction, fear, and greed.

Greed says I must have more (are you thinking what I’m thinking—toilet paper!); gratitude counters with I have more than enough. Greed says the world is coming to an end; gratitude says I am so blessed. Greed steals joy; gratitude restores joy.

To develop gratitude you need to talk to yourself and regularly write your thoughts. The idea is to begin to see all of life including the difficult times as challenges, opportunities, and blessings. I find it helpful to “reframe” a situation—to choose to see it from a new perspective.

How to Be Prepared Not ScaredA close up of a flower

Should we be worried? Scared? No. We should be cautious, alert, vigilant, and prepared. We need to learn all we can and do all we can to prevent contact with influenza as well as this recent new virus. Read more

Reframe the situation

Reframing can be difficult but is especially important when misfortune strikes. If you wreck your car, that is unfortunate. Still, it means you’re alive and that is something for which to be grateful. And you get bonus reasons for gratitude if no one was hurt, you have a good insurance policy, or the car wasn’t totaled.

Authentic and heartfelt gratitude can hush up insatiable desires and negative attitudes.

For instance, you can hate your job, hate the boss, hate the people, hate the commute and hate the work. Or, you can be genuinely grateful that you have a job.

You can learn to appreciate everything about that job, even the distasteful aspects because they build your character, tolerance, and compassion.

No matter what the situation, you choose your focus. If you choose fear, anger, panic—expect depression and misery. If you choose to respond with a grateful heart, expect hope, satisfaction, and joy. Yes joy, even in the midst of a global pandemic.

Make a list

Earlier this morning I jotted down ten things I am grateful for today—right now in the midst of so much uncertainty. Number one on my list? My certainty that God is in control. Right there, that calms my fears. Why should I worry?

The list includes my healthy family, KingSoopers is experiencing no shortages (I can order groceries online with easy drive-thru pick up). I finished my list quickly (you’re on it right there at #6), easily. With each entry I could feel my spirits lift and a refreshing calm rush over me. We’re safe, it’s a beautiful day—and I’m ready to take on whatever lies ahead.

Your turn

Here’s my idea:  Stop what you’re doing and write down ten things for which you are grateful. But don’t stop there! Send me your list, so I can share your gratitude—or post it in the comments below. How wonderful that we are so easily connected by technology (that’s on my list, too!)

If you prefer, send your list to this email address: mary @everydaycheapskate.com (be sure to close that space after “mary.”). I cannot wait to watch my inbox fill. I’ll read every message, and be grateful for you.

Together, we will keep calm and carry on!

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  1. Birgit Nicolaisen says:

    Gratitude list:
    1. Roof over my head, food on my table, clothes on my back.
    2. Husband and I are both at decent jobs with quality insurance.
    3. Money in the bank.
    4. My kid has epilepsy, but she responds well to medication. (See insurance comment above)
    5. My mom is still alive and, even though she lives 3,000 miles away, I can still talk to her on the phone (nope, no facetiming or skype for her).
    6. We belong to a church with a great minister and strong family support.
    7. We live in the US where elections are still open to all. My kid turned 18 in January and is so psyched to vote this year!
    8. That I found FLYlady and Dept Proof Living to help keep my life on track.
    9. That my husband and I have a strong relationship. We just went through a major “bump in the road”, but we are working through it together.
    10. That the internet and Facebook exist for me to keep in touch with family and friends at a distance. The ties would not be as strong without it.

  2. Kellee Rayburn says:

    I’m so thankful that Jesus Christ is my Savior and that He loves me and He’s Sovereign! I’m thankful that the sun is shining and the day is gorgeous; that my husband had a successful knee surgery and that he’s healing well and up and about, that my daughter is healthy, that she loves her school and her school isn’t closed or preparing to close and I’m thankful for my sister/friends that bless my life everyday, through encouraging e-mails and text messages. Thank you, Mary for reminding us about the importance of having an attitude of gratitude!

  3. Lena says:

    I have learned to be content in whatever situation I am in. There is a purpose for everything. God is definitely in control. He loves us beyond our comprehension. Each day I wake up, I thank God. All day long I thank him for everything. If more people would do that than worry and panic, they could experience the peace that only God can give. There is always, always something to be thankful for. I am so thankful I am a child of the King. Have a wonderful day today and everyday.

  4. Kitty says:

    My husband is a paraplegic and everyday we are both grateful his spinal cord injury was not at a higher level and he can use his arms and hands. Makes both of our lives easier that he can transfer himself in and out of bed into his wheelchair. Also thankful for the roof over our heads and many friends and family so willing to help us when difficulties arise ❤️❤️❤️.

  5. Mary says:

    Being thankful for your uplifting blog today. It came at a good time. And I am thankful for many things. Good health, my family, food on the table, compassionate friends, Church. Reading good books.

  6. Jeanne says:

    Thanks for your timely words this morning. For God has NOT given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind!!

    Here’s my ‘off the top of my head’ list
    .I am a Child of the Most High God and He is the one who protects me; He is my anchor and my Hope.
    I am able to go to work every day.
    I am healthy
    I choose to be happy/content in every circumstance
    My children and grandchildren are imperfect and wonderful and I love them deeply
    I have friends who surround me with love and care and friendship
    I live in America—still the best place to live.
    I have a home in Glory—and one day God will call me home.
    I am 71 years old, divorced and still working—life has not been easy but God has been good and faithful. A heart of gratitude is the very least I can offer back to Him.

    Have a blessed day. I hope your inbox is overflowing with words of gratitude!!

  7. Mrs Bruce says:

    God is in control!!!! He loves me!
    I’m thankful for my family, both blood and church,friends, home, food, job;
    Relatively healthy mind and body
    and your reminder today and great info always!!


    I am so very grateful that God is steering the ship… I am grateful that the rain is rain and not snow. I am grateful that my husband is feeling much better since his stay in the hospital. I am thankful that I am healthy. I am grateful for family and friends, especially my sister. I am grateful that I have a job, and I am grateful that I am planning to retire after 40 years. I am thankful for the roof over our heads, the food that nourishes us and the many, many blessings that we enjoy each and every day.

  9. CHERYL says:

    1). That I got up today, and that I can see, hear, taste, smell, and am mobile, for there are plenty who can’t/aren’t.

    2.) Though the bank owns some of it, I am thankful to have a roof over my head.

    3.) That my car is paid for and because of it’s age, full coverage dropped to $99.00 a month! YAY!
    4.) CHOCOLATE, and that God gave me the talent to bake really, really tasty things!
    5.) All my friends, who listen to my stories more than once, but still love me and my casseroles!!
    6.) That I have survived multiple strikes (union) and still have a job! (29 years and counting!!!)
    7.) That I have some common sense and a sense of direction. (gotta know how to program GPS for it to tell you where to go. (My mom has NO sense of direction and trying to find her in my town when she gets lost leads me to some really interesting, sketchy places.)
    8.) That I know how to clean, so a drill sergeant would be hard pressed to find dirt! (THANK YOU GRANDMA!!!) doesn’t mean I always do that, but I KNOW HOW, several friends don’t even know how to clean.
    9.) That although my family is like a bowl of granola and I’m just the FRIENDLY FLAKE, I have family (cousins), for there are many who don’t!!!
    10.) FREE WILL for there are many who don’t have it, and though I have free will, I have God’s Grace to forgive me, for when I do some extremely boneheaded things.
    11.) BONUS!! – OLD CARTOONS and OLDIES MUSIC for the kid in me, that loves a trip down memory lane when I am stressed.

  10. Pam Visser says:

    1. family 2. good health 3. plenty of food in the pantry 4. friends who listen 5. a church family that cares 6. shelter 7. a President who looks out for the people 8. music 9. a warm fire on a chilly night 10. a good book to read by the fire!

    • CHERYL says:

      I agree with you on the books. :0) I used to have a shirt that said Books will get you through a time of no money, better than money will get you through a time of no books!!

      • Dee Patt says:

        A few years ago I read a book from one of my church leaders and he said every day he writes down something he is grateful for. I decided to do that as well. I have been doing this for over a couple of years and it really makes you stop and realize how many blessings you have.

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