Silver Linings: Today I am grateful for…
“What are you grateful for today?” That’s the question my husband and I have been asking each other out loud every night before we turn out the lights for the past 11 months. While the concept was born out of a conversation I had with a friend long before COVID-19 captured headlines, our now nightly ritual wasn’t put into effect until March 2020 when feelings of uncertainty, fear and confusion seemed to permeate our lives.
The goal was to allow ourselves to take a breath after a chaotic, exhausting day and reflect on something good – and the best part was it could be something small. During the first few weeks and months of the pandemic, I struggled with career guilt. I saw my network of friends and peers rocked by job instability, health struggles and mental exhaustion. I knew how lucky I was to be in a situation where I could safely quarantine and only go out for the essentials. I was grateful for my company’s leadership where not only were they extremely transparent about the nature of our business on our now weekly staff huddles, but they also personally touched base via phone with employees “just to check in.” I’m not sure many of my contemporaries could say they’ve received a phone call from their CEO once, let alone twice, during this time to see how they’re doing and to talk about life beyond our virtual worlds.
“Today I am grateful for…” quickly became something we looked forward to every night. It allowed us to acknowledge the greater good we have in our lives, while still appreciating the minute details of our day-to-day. Some nights our responses have been said through tears from stress of the day, gritted teeth after an argument neither of us could remember the next day, or groggy/half-sleep brain because one spouse awakened the other so we could complete our daily routine. Our responses have been varied, but they’re all equally important to our mental health. We decided it’s OK to have the same response and it’s OK to repeat responses. It’s also OK for it to be trivial because you’re allowed to celebrate the smallest moments.
Some of our “Today I am grateful for’s…” have been:
- Getting to do a Zoom happy hour with friends
- Taking a walk for 15 minutes between calls
- Having a non-video conference call
- Zooming with my 92-year-old grandmother and her brood of 30+ children, grandchildren and great grandchildren
- Someone else responding to an email
- Standing in the sunshine
- Taking a five minute break to give my dog a belly rub
As we kicked off 2021, my husband sent me an essay by adventure writer, award-winning filmmaker, speaker Brendan Leonard called, “MAKE 2021 THE YEAR OF MAXIMUM ENTHUSIASM.” It’s an essay Leonard has posted every year since 2011, with a few tweaks to reflect this past year of change, and in it he writes, “In 2021, I urge you to notice when something is awesome, as it often is, and exclaim or murmur or just make a mental note of it.” And that’s just it, isn’t it? Don’t let the moments of true light and happiness amid the darkness pass you by. Whether it’s a quick text or photo mid-day to a friend or colleague, a brief journal entry or a verbalization to a higher entity or your stuffed animal – don’t forget to take a beat and reflect on what you’re grateful for today.