“I’m feeling really grateful in this moment,” I confessed to my husband during our family’s nature walk on day three of social distancing. I felt a twinge of guilt over this emotion knowing so many families and individuals are suffering worldwide in the chaos caused by COVID-19.
Gratitude is a skill I try to practice every day — on my worst days and my best days. I find that on my best days, it is easy to identify three areas of life I am grateful for. On my worst days, it is a little harder to shift my mindset to focus on the positives. Sometimes I have to start with gratitude for the air in my lungs, the electricity in my house, or “Friends” re-runs on TBS. Actively pursuing gratitude helps me realize I have enough.
I usually find that once I start naming my thankfulness, it is hard for me to stop.
It takes little to no effort to get weighed down by the stress in our lives, hardships, and most recently, worldwide pandemic. In anxious moments, it is a little more challenging to notice what is going well around us.
Personally, the panic of coronavirus hit me hard on one particular day. It seemed that much in our country changed from that one day to the next: travel bans, school closings, employees encouraged to work from home, events and gatherings canceled, and the massive run on groceries.
Because of my work with VIPKid, I had witnessed firsthand the impact of my Chinese ESL students and their families being quarantined at home since January. This insight caused me to prepare our family by buying extra groceries (that I knew we would eat anyway) the week before. While I did not need to step foot in a grocery store on that day that hit me hard, I did legitimately need gas in my car.
As we often do, I picked up my daughter from preschool at noon, and we drove to fill up with gas on the way home. But this day was different. Traffic was insane. It took us much longer to reach our local gas station. The grocery stores we passed had no parking spots available. Drivers were impatient with each other. I had to wait 30 minutes to reach a gas pump at the station. By the time we got home — an hour later — my nerves were fried, my adrenaline was pumping, and the fear had seeped in. The hysteria had reached our town, state, and country.
A full night’s sleep offered some needed perspective: My family was safely home together. We had plenty of food. We were all healthy. As the media highlighted those who were not as fortunate, I knew I did not want to take our situation for granted.
In the midst of coronavirus, here are three ways I am practicing gratitude.
Time with family
My husband’s job demands a lot of his time. Through social distancing, we have been given the gift of time together. I am grateful for our family walks, time for conversations, freedom to play games, family meals all together, and sharing a glass of wine on our patio after the kids go to bed.
Kindness on display
Despite the greediness of bulk shopping and consumers hoarding items in their fear, there have been so many selfless acts balancing the scales. I am grateful for neighbors bringing medical supplies to other neighbors who need them most. I am grateful for the humanity of those announcing on social media that they will provide meals to any family in need who sends them a direct message. I am grateful for the business owners and athletes compassionately giving from their own paychecks to make sure hourly workers still get paid while they wait to return to work.
Social distancing has the potential to create isolation. But instead, friends are checking on each other, asking how older parents are doing, and offering to help if anyone needs anything. I am grateful for my friends who have connected with us, whether from 1,800 miles away or 8 miles away.
No doubt about it, these are crazy, unknown times we are living in. As you attempt to navigate through all the noise, make sure you take a moment to stop, exhale, unclench your jaw, notice the good around you, and give thanks.