A global crisis is an unlikely place to start a conversation about things like Gratitude, Happiness and Thriving. What is there to be grateful for? We’re in lockdown in our homes, borders are closed as are many of our businesses and workplaces. There is anxiety and uncertainty as to our future and the unknowing-ness of what the ‘new normal’ will look like. With this backdrop, feeling grateful may seem as incomprehensible as trying to grasp a foreign language for the first time.
I get it. Back in mid March , just as the virus started to consume our news headlines, I tuned into the TV and read as much as I could find on the internet. With a fledgling small business all I could see was doom and gloom. My thoughts spiralled out of control and before long I was conjuring up images of the most dire of consequences for my financial position, the security of my home and my physical wellbeing.
The questions raced around in my head: “Why is this happening to me?” (as if I were the only person impacted!) “How am I going to survive, I’ve lost my income?” I didn’t know if I even wanted to continue living. Crazy, but that is what happened.
I’d gone down a deep dark rabbit hole where I wallowed for several distress-filled days. Living alone, I had no one at hand that I could readily talk to. Yet, somehow I knew getting out of this hole was something I needed to do on my own.
How did I get out?
First, I realised this wasn’t the first time I’d faced significant challenges that had threatened to consume me and where I’d been unable to see an end in sight, the fear and pain almost unbearable. Each time though I came through, and a better version of me emerged. New opportunities presented, and I grew as a person. And along the way, I picked up some simple and effective coping tools. Why would it be any different for me now?
With that shift in mindset, I pulled out the first and often under-rated tool – Gratitude. Dusting off a journal, I began writing down as many things as came to mid that I was grateful for that day. The beautiful thing about Gratitude is the more you practice it, the more the Universe presents you things to be grateful for. If you need a quick way to shift your state in any given moment – start with Gratitude.
Next, it was the Smile tool. You don’t even have to think about this one. Just do it !!! (thanks Nike!) Right when you’re about to say “what have I got to smile about” is the perfect time to do it. Smile. We can all do this. It is scientifically proven to improve our mood, health and emotional state. Not to forget its contagious too! Don’t believe me? Try it next time you’re in the supermarket or pass someone out walking. Trust me, you’ll get a smile back. And if you don’t, that’s ok. They may have their reasons. I love smiling. It makes me feel happy, and that’s what matters most, especially when life isn’t going so good.
The last tool I pulled out (although by no means the last tool in the kit!) was Connection. While I had been consumed in my fears and anxieties, I’d ceased connecting to others and with myself. I started by rekindling my connection with nature. I would sit by my beehive and watch as the bees returning home after their day out foraging. At times I would almost lose myself with the mesmerising simplicity of their activity. Other times, lying on my back, I would marvel at the never-ending transitions of the clouds. Sitting on the shore and just being with the rhythmic natural ebb and flow of the waves – no stories, just observing, just being, just connecting. It slows the chatter in our head, it enables us to experience something much bigger than ourselves. And above all, even if just for a few moments, it lets us see there is a way out.
Piece by piece, I started rising back up from the darkness. With each tool I used, my thoughts altered course, the light came closer and brighter.
I popped out of the Rabbit Hole!