During this time of global upheaval and uncertainty, there is much to be gained from the saying: “Gratitude turns what we have into enough.”
We are all grieving at this time… in our ways for our own reasons. Our worlds have turned upside down in the past few weeks. We were living our lives and then everything that we knew changed.
According to Elisabeth Kubler Ross & David Kessler, there are five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. When my mother died, I found myself in the anger phase of grieving for an extended period of time. Because she died suddenly, I didn’t get to say a goodbye and was left with the burden and pain of unsaid words. Struck by an insurmountable amount of grief, I felt angry. Other members of my family were heartbroken, too, but they expressed their pain differently, and perhaps, because of this, they reached the stage of acceptance a lot sooner than I did.
Over the years I’ve realized that we all grieve and heal differently. While my mother’s sudden demise left me entrenched in the anger phase of grieving, with the coronavirus pandemic, I reached the acceptance phase inside of two weeks. Why have I been able to evolve through the stages of grief so quickly? Because since the time of my mother’s death, I have become best friends with gratitude.
To be clear, using the word ‘gratitude’ and feeling it deeply inside in your core are two separate experiences.
Before my mother passed away, I would express gratitude for measurable moments — be it a two-week vacation or a promotion at work or a table at a restaurant I’d been wanting to try. Thanks to yoga, I now understand and accept that gratitude is what sustains us. The breath that we have, the moments we spend with loved ones, the memories of those deceased, the ability to buy groceries and eat, the capacity to go for a walk, the intention to show up on the yoga mat, and so much more.
I live in NYC, which is considered the epicenter of coronavirus in the United States. So many of my close friends are sick with COVID-19. Many of them are on the mend, for which I have gratitude for these small mercies. On an average, I receive over a dozen messages from friends and family asking about my family’s welfare on a daily basis. There so many people who urge me to not step out of our apartment, even for a solitary walk while practicing social distancing, because they are scared of me getting infected. I have gratitude to have people who care about my well-being at a time when everyone has so much going on in their own lives.
Amidst this coronavirus crisis, people are connecting with their families and friends on a deep level. Healthy relationships and meaningful conversations are integral to our survival and mental health. I now do a morning video chat with my dad and check-in with my mom-in-law. We have random, hearty conversations that uplift us all. These were the kind of things that were overlooked when we are all running around and living our busy lives.
I have immense gratitude that this pandemic has given us the chance to pause, reflect, and focus on what matters most.
I am a small business owner. My business, like that of majority of other entrepreneurs, has already suffered tremendously. Coronavirus has bludgeoned my livelihood since all of my creativity and wellness workshops and speaking engagements have been postponed — a hopeful word for canceled. But despite all this upheaval and uncertainty, I am in gratitude because I believe that if I built my business once, I can rebuild it again.
I know that I am not alone in my suffering; the entire world is a mess. Yet I am grateful that I am surrounded by a community of compassionate colleagues willing to work together to get out of this mess. I am grateful that we are able to support each other when we hop on Zoom calls to talk about our struggles and our hopes for a bright tomorrow.
I am not diminishing the challenges anyone is facing during this pandemic. But there is a lot to be grateful for even as we are on lockdown inside our homes. I am not suggesting that we should be grateful that the pandemic has consumed our lives, but I am grateful to realize that the only thing that’s under my control at this point is my thought process.
One thing that has helped me stay sane these past few weeks is focusing on what I have versus what I have lost.
There are people who don’t have jobs, food, healthcare, or access to getting tested for COVID-19. There are people who have lost friends and family to the virus. There are people who are stuck abroad because of travel restrictions brought upon by this virus. I remain in gratitude because I have a home where I can safely stay with my family. I have access to food to feed myself and my family. I have Internet access to connect with friends and Netflix. If you can work remotely, be in gratitude. If you have a healthy body, be in gratitude. If you have a partner, friend, colleague, family member, or pet who makes sure you are okay, be in gratitude. We will survive… and thrive.
You may also enjoy reading Flipping your Mindset: The Healing Power of Affirmations, Mindfulness and Gratitude by Daniel Wittler