BY MARY HUNT
Life is uncertain. We know that. What we don’t want to admit is how quickly uncertainty can morph into fear, worry and panic.
Waking up to the words “global pandemic” has, for many of us, brought new meaning to uncertainty. And in all of this, we’re supposed to keep calm? Carry on? Nice words, but how?
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 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 no. 1 best antidote to 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 down 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 it 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 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 or 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
Recently, I jotted down 10 things I am grateful for in the midst of all this uncertainty. No. 1 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 and my fully stocked supermarket (I can order groceries online with easy drive-thru pickup). I finished my list quickly and easily (you’re on it, right there at no. 6). 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.
I want to invite you to write down 10 things for which you are grateful. Even if you think you don’t have anything to put on your list, start with this: I woke up this morning to a new day. There you go … you’re on your way! Expressing gratitude can truly change your life.
Would you like more information? Go to EverydayCheapskate.com for links and resources for recommended products and services in this column. Mary invites questions, comments and tips at EverydayCheapskate.com, “Ask Mary.” This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of EverydayCheapskate.com, a lifestyle blog, and the author of the book “Debt-Proof Living.”
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