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 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.
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.
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!