fearful woman looking out window

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 all-out panic.

Waking this morning to the reality of national unrest on top of a global pandemic brings even more new meaning to uncertainty. In all of this, we’re supposed to keep calm? Carry on? Nice words, but how?

fearful woman looking out window

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 and believe 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.

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 fear, 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: mailbag @everydaycheapskate.com (be sure to close that space after “mailbag.”). 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!

A desk with a laptop computer sitting on top of a table


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  1. Don says:

    Hi, Mary. I agree with everything you’ve written in this column. I’m not going to list 10 things I’m grateful for, but I do want to share one thing. I’m old enough to retire now, and I deal with stress on my job much better because I can quit (retire) at any time, and never have to work at that place again, AND I don’t have to worry about finding another job that pays as much as the job I have now. Therefore, I’m much more likely to stand up for myself and voice my dissatisfaction if I think I’m not being treated fairly or if I think we could so things differently and get better results. And even though I rarely get my way, at least I’ve been heard and I haven’t bottled up those feelings and let them eat away at me. In fact, knowing what I know now, I wish I’d done more of that many years ago.

    I’m a hard worker, and a valuable asset to my employer. I’m not a perfect employee, and I can’t do everything everybody else does, but I know my capabilities, and I do MY job well. I deserve to be treated well in return. Years ago, I resigned several positions when stress overwhelmed me. Since then, I’ve learned that every job can be stressful, and if I’m going to quit anyway, I’ve got nothing to lose, so now I speak up for myself.

  2. Connie E Clark says:

    !. Joy in God who I trust in this life and the next.
    2. My family are all well.
    3. I have a comfortable home, it is warm and I have wood to burn if I want it.
    4. I have food in the pantry and freezer. No starving here.
    5. Connection to friends, family and others is available through the phone and internet.
    6. Books are all around me, those I own and some from the library.
    7. Great sites keep me interested in other parts of the world.
    8. Income is regular and dependable.
    9. Plenty of yarn and patterns to keep my hands busy and make things for others.
    10. Nature outside my door is beautiful, peaceful and soothes my soul.

  3. S says:

    It’s too late for calm. Notice the control over social media and emails. It was part of the dems plan. The worse is yet to come.

  4. Dana says:

    My Gratitude list: 1) Jesus 2) my husband 3) my kids 4) my grandchildren 5) my mom 6) heat in the winter 6) USA 7) good friends 8) my needs are met 9) close loving family 10) garage door openers

  5. Kitty Thompson says:

    Hi Mary. I’m grateful that God is in control, that my family is healthy, we have a paid for home, my business is surviving (barely). I’m grateful for you and your posts – you make my day! I’m grateful for my health, that today is my birthday (I made it to 74!), that I have great employees and my truck is working properly. Love you, and thanks again for all you do

  6. Kathy Cuevas says:

    `1. Being raised in my Christian Faith
    2. God IS in Control
    3. My health
    4. My family
    5. My finances (will retire very comfortably God willing)
    6. My genuine desire to help others (financially and teaching my students to have a better financial future)
    7. My Job
    8. My marriage
    9. My Church/pastor
    10. All my blessings

  7. Hijjo says:

    1. My good health 2. My family 3. My friends 4. My ability to love 4. My house 5. My ability to see that good can be gotten from bad situations 6. My spirituality 7. The beautiful county I live in 8. My social conscience 9. The belief that there are enough good people to make things turn out right 10. The Latino community in which I voluntarily tutor

  8. Janet Lamkin says:

    Thankyou so much for your encouraging message. I needed to be reminded once again to be thankful in the midst of all the uncertainty in our country. I will continue to pray and trust that God is in control and learn. Janet

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