Throughout the past week I’ve caught myself having a similar conversation with several different people. The conversation starts with discussing some of the challenges of 2020 and then drifts.
It’s been a ridiculously challenging and difficult year for all of us – and it feels like an understatement putting it that way. From COVID to societal challenges to politics gone bonkers to a recession it has been a challenging year in so many ways. I think we can all agree that 2020 has been one of the most difficult we’ve lived through. If given the opportunity to have 2020 or any other year back to re-live I would be shocked to see if a large % of the population chose a 2020 Do Over.
What’s interesting is that even with this in mind the conversation drifts from the difficulty of it to the benefits of the year. Yes, it has been challenging, but there have been some significant positives as well if I remember to look for them. Once we start talking about the positives 2020 suddenly seems to be not nearly as horrible as it sounded at the onset of the conversation.
Some of the positives from this year include so many valuable life lessons. I’ve been more focused on gratitude than ever. I’m appreciating more of the little things in life. I’ve learned more through experiencing diversity than ever. I’m finding so many ways to use 2020 as an opportunity to teach the boys about resilience. I’ve spent more time deep in thought than in a long time. My focus on the present moment has increased. I’m exercising more than I have in a long time. There have been more moments spend focused on my faith. I’ve found so many opportunities to practice doing right even when it is difficult to do. This year has helped me focus on what is important to me in life. Long story short, when I really think about it, my soul is more at peace, calm, alive, and aware than it has been in a very long time.
How crazy is that? In the face of all of this craziness and chaos my soul is finding calm within the storm. In a weird sort of way it’s finding levels of peace and joy in direct opposition to the levels of chaos and craziness. How can this be possible?
It boils down to one simple thing, gratitude. When I choose gratitude I have to find a way to be thankful for everything, even the difficult stuff. It may sound crazy, but the more difficult it is the more thankful I am for it. I have to find a way to become better through the difficult stuff and to learn from the difficult stuff in order to be thankful for it. Once I’ve got my mind focused on finding what I am thankful for my soul switches gears from sadness, frustration, and anger to joy.
How fortunate am I to have lived through such an opportunity? How lucky am I that this difficult thing has happened as I can find a way to be better from this? Thank you Big Dude Upstairs for pushing me in a direction I didn’t want to go as it’s helping me grow in ways I never thought possible.
As I started with, the same conversation seems to have come up in one form or another so many times in the past week. It starts with talking about the challenges of 2020 and then drifts into the positives and upsides of the year. By the time it is over I find myself more joyful and optimistic than before the conversation. When I pause to think about why I am more joyful it all boils down to using gratitude to lift my spirits through any storm.
2020, dude, I really hope I don’t have to re-visit you anytime soon. That said, the opportunity you’ve presented to help me grow and strengthen my gratitude practice is greatly appreciated. Just as losing Dad was a source of great growth, 2020 has been so similar in a very different way. While I won’t be reaching out to invite myself back anytime soon I am grateful that we’ve met as you’ve improved my life through the challenges you’ve brought my way.