“Oh, Honey, please try not to worry. I promise you there are more good people in the world than there are bad people; we just always hear about the bad people.”
This is the type of reassurance my mom would often provide to her shy, sensitive little girl.
I would repeat those lines over and over again when I witnessed cruelty, greed, or evil. It helped me not only keep my anxiety levels down, it ultimately made me a "people person." A person who believes in the good of humanity, the intentions of others, and the tremendous power of connection.
The other lesson my mom taught me was to always say, "thank you." Nothing was ever handed to my parents. They worked hard to support their family, and appreciation was expected for any indulgence - whether it be a rare trip to McDonald's or a few new outfits from the local K-Mart.
This is the most powerful lesson that has guided me through my life. Finding gratitude and seeking out my blessings rather than taking things for granted. My mother so profoundly instilled this lesson in me, at the age of 7, I began a lifelong tradition of providing a 'thank you' list to God each night. It generally went something like this, "Thank you for my mom, my dad, my brother, Misty (my cat), my grandparents, my home, my bed, Tommy (my beloved teddy bear), french fries, and crayons.”
Over the years, I am happy to say that this list grew to include my husband, my three children, opportunities, and good health. I also learned to ask God to instill those blessings onto my fellow human beings. Health, good food to eat, and people who love you, for everyone – all 7 billion of us. We’re in this together, after all. Aren’t we?
Gratitude puts things in perspective. I had great synergy going with my new business before the coronavirus brought it to a grinding halt. My daughter is in her sophomore year of high school, and I am wondering if she will still be able to graduate on time. My good friend has been looking forward to her daughter’s college graduation for months. It is not going to happen. At least not right away. I feel stressed out for small businesses who won't make it through the social distancing and quarantines. I am worried about our medical professionals and our front-line emergency workers (one of whom happens to be my husband). I feel for the parents who are scrambling to find daycare for their children now that schools have shut down in 37 states. I wonder when we will experience the magic of once again attending sporting events, concerts, and celebrations together. Most of all, I am worried about my elderly parents and everyone who has autoimmune deficiencies that are included in the "such a small percentage of people who will die from this virus, so why is everyone so freaked out?" number. When you look at their significance as human beings rather than as a small percentage, I hope you will adjust your attitude a little bit.
In The Attitude Influence, my favorite and most used tool for effectively controlling my attitude is 'Gratitude.' I am using this tool every day to help me deal with the stress and anxiety of this situation.
I live in a state with the highest elderly population in the country. I am also married to an emergency worker. These facts create an extra sense of obligation to stay at home as much as possible. In the past week, I have only been to a small writing class (there are six of us), the grocery store, and the drug store. Here are the things I have a newfound appreciation for:
The truckers who are transporting goods to stores. The employees who are stocking the shelves. The cashiers who are showing up and enabling me to purchase food and other essential items for my home.
I am grateful to live in a community of people who want to help each other. For healthcare professionals who work hard and spend time away from their families to ensure our well-being. I am blessed to have a full refrigerator and electricity. And, maybe for the first time ever, I appreciate having a sufficient supply of toilet paper – and the commitment to not buy any more just because I can.
I am comforted by my friends on social media who are sharing positive stories, positive mindsets, and pictures of their dogs. I am grateful that people genuinely care about the mom and pop restaurant and its workers.
Gratitude has allowed me to have faith in where 'Plan B' may lead me, and to understand I can help others in some way. Despite its flaws, frustrations, and polarization, I am proud to live in a country that is full of people who rally behind one another, wish others well, and genuinely care about its fellow citizens.
Let’s seek out ways to help our neighbors stay safe, protected, and cared for during this time.
It starts with the ripples you have the power to make. One small gesture. One small act of kindness. One change in perspective. By doing whatever it is we can do, we have the power to get through this – and be better for it.
Stay safe, stay well. Choose happy.