It’s November, the month we give thanks for our blessings which people may struggle with this year. I am concerned about how often I’m hearing ‘I just want to get through (some aspect of the challenges of 2020)…’ I am more concerned about the times I’ve said something along those lines.
It is part of life that we have times we have to get through – the loss of a loved one, a serious illness or health challenge, heartbreak. During those times, you can only try to do the right things for your recovery and look toward better days. For those facing major loss or illness this year, my heart is with you, and I wish you strength, courage and faith.
For the rest of us, 2020 is not the year we planned, but many of the abundant gifts in our lives are still present. And yet I hear (say) “I just want it (the pandemic, the election, the year) to be over.”
When our children were very small, our lives were crazy. My husband and I were juggling three small children and two fledgling businesses. We would strive to get through the work week to have some breathing room on the weekends. Then breathe a small sigh of relief Monday mornings when we traded the relentless, hands-on demands of caring for three little ones for work.
Early on, we found time to talk about this and agreed that ‘getting through’ raising our children was not our goal. They were amazing, delightful creatures and we decided to fight the endurance mindset as hard as we could. Maybe it was a quote from the movie ‘Hook’ that helped us reset, when his wife reminds the grown-up and work-obsessed Peter Pan:
“We have a few special years with our children, when they’re the ones that want us around. After that you’re going to be running after them for a bit of attention… It’s a few years, and it’s over. And you are missing it.”
We didn’t want to miss it. So as much as possible, we were all in with our kids. And we savored the laughter, discovery, adventure and even the tears along the way.
Sometimes we have to find a new mindset or perspective. We had an elliptical machine for fitness, and I found it mind-numbing and tedious. Then I got an iPod and started listening to music while on the machine. The experience became more enjoyable with this one change.
Every day, especially this year, we need to discover how to apply this technique. Find the music. Change your filter. Reject the grind. For some of us, it might just be about less time on news sites or social media and more time with the people we love doing things we enjoy.
We keep hearing, “It’s a marathon, not a sprint.” But a marathon is physically demanding, all-consuming endurance challenge and this year is not that. It’s a year in which we had to change our plans and adapt in ways we didn’t like. However, when we consider the timeless sources of happiness – family, friendships, faith and making a contribution through work or service to others – these are still abundant in our lives.
We have a limited number of years on this planet. Amidst the noise and chaos of 2020, resist just ‘getting through’ it. Count your blessings. Hug your child, spouse, parent, pet often. Do good work. Appreciate the miracles of nature. Listen to music that soothes and stimulates your soul.
There has never been a better time to actively focus on gratitude than November 2020. Take ‘awe walks’ and marvel at nature while you remind yourself of all the good things in your life. Make a list of 100 things your thankful for. Thank others – take a few minutes each day to appreciate those around you and tell them, either in a conversation or even better in writing.
There’s a Jack Kornfield quote I love: “In the end, only three things matter: how much you loved, how gently you lived, and how gracefully you let you of things not meant for you.” This year, start and end with love. Practice kindness as often as you can. Let go of things you missed out on, and look for the hidden gifts. Happy Thanksgiving!