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. GLenda says:

    Thankful for:
    My God
    Roof over my head
    My warm bed
    My part time job
    My mom
    Technology since covid
    **And Your great ideas on living our lives better!

  2. Karen Mandart says:

    I’m grateful I just celebrated my 70th birthday and I’m alive in this pandemic. I’m grateful I have a roof over my head and I can pay the mortgage every month. I’m grateful for a wonderful (though ailing) loving husband (of 35 years) who even sends to Europe for a candy I can’t get here. I’m grateful my son, daughter-in-law and 2 Grandchildren are safe and sound, (even though I don’t see them because of this pandemic). I’m grateful for “video chats” so I can at least see & hear my grandkids since I can’t hug them. I’m grateful I have a happy, loving dog of 9 years of age who acts like a puppy when we take him for a walk (in this very cold weather). I’m grateful I have a stocked pantry and can cook and eat anything I want and never go to bed hungry. I’m grateful we can donate to people less fortunate than we are. I’m grateful for the relatives and friends (who are like relatives), that keep in touch and are “shoulders to lean on” to keep me sane. I’m grateful for the sunshine on my face when the (cold) wind blows that chills me. I’m grateful for you, Mary and your column and for reminding me that I have a LOT of things to be grateful for!!! Thanks!

  3. Pat says:

    In one way I am sad about the pademic and the virus but in others I am loving staying home. Working from home is awesome. I have painted the kitchen and laundry room and we have gotten a lot of maintenance done around the house. We planted the garden and I have started using my recipe book collection. Kids are getting homeschooled like I always wanted. I miss being able to go see my mother but I imagine in about two years we can fly again overseas. We only go out shopping once a week but since the goodwill is right next door to Kroger I still get to shop there to make me happy. It never closed down during lockdown as the governor deemed it an essential business. I loved that they had to take out advertisements on the radio to remind people that they were still open in March and April. I spring cleaned the house and donated a lot of items that we didn’t need. I have been so productive this last year. We were scared to death but we kept busy.

  4. susan duzik says:

    Iam SO grateful for YOUR site/inspiring words, be it about life or how to save. I’m WAY into saving & probably have some ways I’ve never seen on here, lol. Mostly, wanted to say, Iam grateful EVERYDAY for your column…God Bless you Mary & thank YOU.

  5. Linda Pries says:

    I don’t understand the people who are panicking over all this. The virus did not and does not concern me and neither does any political issues. I see what goes on around me and just deal with that. Politically I see our lives have a very high probability of becoming extremely more difficult this and future of years so I plan on preparing my life to deal with the insanity that I believe is ahead. Of course I am Christian so I know that whatever happens here and now is just a rung on the ladder and the best is yet to come.

  6. Jan says:

    Things I’m grateful for:
    1. God’s faithfulness
    2. Sisters
    3. A roof over my head
    4. Food on the table
    5. Healthy family, kids and gkids
    6. Sun is out today!
    7, Birds at my feeders
    8. Tea
    9. Only 70 more days till spring!
    10. ebooks

  7. Katie French says:

    Encouraging words from smart people 😉
    God is in control.
    I belong to Him.
    As Mary stated, I’m thankful for gratitude as it is highly effective medicine for the spirit.
    People who love me and whom I love.
    People who genuinely care about others and act upon it.
    When God (through His wonderful people) restored our home after Hurricane Florence flooded us. I’ll NEVER forget that and it’s really powerful encouragement for me.
    The opportunity to serve others and receive the joy it gives as a side benefit.
    My wonderful husband.
    My family
    Our health
    Our home
    Our food and some stored up
    The ability to communicate so quickly with others who are far away.
    Being able to help out a few 20 somethings.

    Thanks Mary

  8. Deborah Sykes says:

    Thankful for my 10 things Thanks Mary for this reminder.
    #1 Gratefulto my God and his goodness
    #2 I have had health issues this past year grateful to be alive.
    #3 I have food in my pantry.
    #4 I’m grateful for a loving family.
    #5 I’m grateful for my home, soft bed, and all my comforts.
    #6 I’m grateful for my husband.
    #7 I’m grateful for the internet to learn and keep going forward.
    #8 I’m grateful for the changes of the seasons.
    # 9 I’m grateful for my friends that keep in touch with me.
    #10 I’m grateful to not have contacted the virus, grateful for a healthy immune system.

  9. Dorothy Meyers says:

    1.I am grateful for the roof over our heads, the clothes on our backs, and the food on our table.
    2. I am grateful for the sunshine today… it’s been a while since we’ve seen it.
    3 I am grateful for our health… we had an encounter with Covid19 – my husband spent 18 days in the hospital, but has since come home and is doing well.
    4 I am grateful that we were able to spend the holidays together…for a while, it didn’t look like that would happen.
    5. I am grateful for the wonderful family and friends that we love and enjoy.
    6. I am grateful for the “maids” the dishwasher, washing machine, and dryer.
    7. I am recently retired…I am grateful for the extra time I get to spend with my hubby.
    8. I am grateful for the “live stream” of our Mass online…with his health issues, it’s not a good idea to go to church.
    9. I am grateful for the internet…even though at times it can be a pain.
    10. I am grateful for the blessing of my life… so many wonderful things in nature to see and appreciate…we had beautiful frozen fog on the trees this week…it was like big snowflakes covering the trees.

  10. Jeneene says:

    I am very grateful for…
    1 my home is my own, paid off, and I love it
    2 my family and friends are safe and healthy
    3 I took care of my body and money so that at 75 I’m not worried about those things
    4 bloggers whose blogs I can read easily, without pop up ads or slides (like yours…thank you!)
    5 our new President and Vice President and senate
    6 my sweet cat who is very social
    7 Library books including audiobooks, all free!
    8 my woodshop that has allowed me to make a living right here at home
    9 my dance community, all eager to get back on the dance floor
    10 the Internet, which has allowed us to keep in touch throughout the pandemic

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