These are some strange times. I feel like I’ve been saying this a lot the past several months, and for good reason, as it really is. And if there’s one thing I know, a saving grace if you will, it’s that change is inevitable, so this too shall pass. And it’s a royally tough, uncomfortable, and difficult time for everyone, regardless.
Some people lost their jobs, while others have more work than they know what to do with. The same holds true for big businesses. Some, like Home Depot, Target and most grocery stores are more profitable than ever, while local small businesses, restaurants, and clubs, went out of business. Again, strange times. None of this is easy though. It’s great to prosper of course, but when others are suffering it comes with a tinge of grey. And of course, there’s the illness and the deaths from the coronavirus. To me, these are the most difficult part of this experience.
With all of the above present, and it’s a lot, I’m seeing one particular quality in the vast majority of us which keeps showing up – resiliency.
We keep on ticking, keep going, keep at it, and eventually one day and one experience passes to another. We experience whatever is present and then move on to the next moment. Granted, sometimes kicking and screaming, and other times with tremendous pain, but we do move on, we have to, and as you’ve heard it said, “Time waits for no one.” Not rocket science I know, but a cycle of life worth mentioning, especially during these times.
Gratitude, and my somewhat inconsistent practice of it, has been helping me to ground myself during this challenging period. It’s true, I can’t go to my favorite restaurants, but many, those still open, have take out, so I order on an app or over the phone and pick up my meals. My gym is closed and I’ve gained some weight, details currently unavailable as I’m avoiding the scale, and I’m doing my best to walk a lot and work out at home in between all my quarantine priorities like cleaning out my old files, thirty years worth, reorganizing the entire pantry, and washing and vacuuming my own car to avoid unnecessary contact. That’s basically a sin here in southern California for those of you who don’t know.
And while life isn’t as it was, when I focus on gratitude I start to calm my nervous system and begin moving from my head into my heart.
All the thinking tends to have judgment attached. Going down a list of gratitude has the tendency to shift my focus and make me thankful for all the things I do have like my health, a loving partner, and puppies to name some highlights.
Recently, I had the pleasure of attending a workshop facilitated by Marriage and Family Counselor Jamie Simmons. He curates a monthly gathering called MindSpa, for gay men. I’m facilitating the next gathering in January, so this was my opportunity to see how the 90-minute seminar works.
Jamie’s focus for this month’s MindSpa was gratitude. It sounded nice, but I felt tired, and less than my normally enthusiastic self. Actually though, Zooming with a group of individuals all focused on gratitude ended up being an incredibly powerful experience. And halfway through the evening we each began to drop into our hearts as Jamie encouraged us to share, multiple times, what we were grateful for. I even found myself tearing up at one point.
So because these are such strange times, no way to sugar coat it and I love sugar, try listing five things at the beginning or end of each day you’re grateful for. Even if you’re an experienced gratitude list maker, a coach or therapist – start or re-commit to keeping a gratitude list or journal. And for extra credit see if you can find a partner or group of friends or family you can share your gratitude list with each day via text, email, FaceTime or Zoom. The group energy is very powerful. But don’t take my word for it, rather, run the experiment and see for yourselves.
We’re all gonna get through these times one way or another. To make it all the more bearable or sweet, try a practice of gratitude and see how it feels. Does it improve your experience of your day? And please know I’m grateful to be sharing this piece of writing with you, but most of all I’m grateful we’re here together. Happy Holidays! And here’s to a new year filled with gratitude! Thank you!
Barry Alden Clark is a writer and professional life coach. His work is focused on helping people live their best lives by acting as a guide for them to connect more deeply with their internal life force where creativity, purpose, and true freedom reside, while using humor, compassion, and kindness as hallmarks for the process of personal evolution. Recently Barry published his first book, “Living Life Now: Ingredients for Thriving In The Modern World,” now available on Amazon, and launched his new podcast “Living Life Now,” available on iTunes, Spotify and Google Music. You can reach Barry at www.barryaldenclark.com.
Image courtesy of Spencer Davis.