The past year was challenging for many. Most of us had unprecedented circumstances that we had to deal with and adapt to. Some of us faced more dire circumstances than others, including the presence of COVID and the resulting illness and loss of loved ones; the specter of losing our livelihoods; and the stress and uncertainty related to hurricanes, wildfires, and the alarming political landscape. It was not a relaxing year. How do we cope when everything seems out of whack and there are multiple sources of anxiety and stress? How can we learn to be resilient? It’s certainly not a switch we can turn on when we need it. We have to take the time to process what we’re going through while at the same time figuring out how we can best adapt to the specific effects of what we’re experiencing. This takes reflection, perspective, and proactivity. It also takes courage—we have to face the new reality and accept the changes that are happening.
Most things in life are cyclical. We have periods when everything goes our way and periods when nothing seems to go right at all. This is natural and normal. Rather than always waiting for the highs and bemoaning the lows, we need to expect and learn from the lows and fully experience and be grateful for the highs. There is always something beautiful, meaningful, and important in our lives, even in the lowest points.
How much of your daily schedule is out of your control?
Many of us may feel that our time is not really our own, that we have responsibilities that drive what we do on a day-to-day basis. But if we take a closer look, we’ll likely find that we have considerably more control over our schedules than we realize. At first glance, our schedules may be a densely populated mish-mash of work-related appointments (meetings, calls, travels), family commitments (doctor appointments, sports and school events), and, if we can fit them in, personal activities (hobbies, exercise, time with friends). If we prioritize them at all, it may be based on who is yelling the loudest or what the crisis is at the moment. However, it is possible to be intentional about our time, even for (especially for) the busiest of people, and if we are intentional, we may be able to cut back on some of the activities we feel we must do and schedule our activities for when we will be able to perform at our best.
Do you feel good about your life?
Are you generally excited about your days (or at least something about your days)? Do you feel the activities that make up your days have elements that are meaningful, fulfilling, and fun? When many consider their day-to-day lives, they may think about them as something to get through—something to endure until they can get on with the fun or meaningful part of their lives. Something they have to do until they can escape.
But it’s possible to build a life from which we don’t need to escape—a life that gives us what we need. But it takes some effort, and it requires us to be intentional, open-minded, and creative.
All of us see and use patterns.
It’s how we get through life. If we didn’t assume people would behave a certain way or that the world wouldfollow physical laws or that our cars would work the same way, we would never get through the day. We would spend all our time experimenting—figuring out how things worked and how they responded to our interaction.
On the other hand, our assumptions about how things work can impede our ability to discover new things. Our need to see patterns can lead to a habit of seeing them where they may not exist. Patterns can be very helpful, but we should avoid assuming a pattern or some other condition if the potential for learning something new or different exists. Things aren’t always as they seem.