This year will go down as one of the most chaotic on record no doubt. We’ve had a global pandemic with a global economic shutdown, protests and riots that rival the intensity of the 1960s, Saharian dust clouds, murder hornets, fires that decimated Australia….the stuff of legends and dystopian nightmares. I would like to hope though that the next six months can be different.
My daughter recently toured High Point University where the University President, Dr. Nido R. Qubein, spoke about making the choice every day to be happy. This message truly resonated with me. We chose the life we live through the small habits and decisions we make every minute of every day. Our lives are not a well thought out novel written by a well published author. Our lives are a series of moments strung together in a tapestry. Each strand is a choice made with the best intentions and based on the limited knowledge we have in that moment. Taking inspiration from Dr Qubein’s speech, here are my 10 ways to survive the rest of 2020.
- Take a Social Media detox Social Media has become a haven for toxicity. We forget that it was created to help us connect with each other; to find our long lost best friend from Elementary School. But, Social Media has become a hotbed of negativity where blame-storming, name calling and hostile rhetoric get the most likes and attention. My 45 day Social Media Detox controlled my anger, lessened my anxiety and forced me to view the world with my own eyes. Which brings me to my second way to survive the rest of 2020….
- Get outside Fresh air is the best medicine for whatever ails you. I am not a doctor, but I know from experience that just a few minutes outside changes my mood, my emotions and how I feel physically. The best way to get outside is a simple walk around your neighborhood. And, when you meet your neighbors, you will be amazed at the wonderful people that live close to you. Even the grumpy old man down the street can’t help but smile when you offer to bring his trash can up his driveway from the curb. So, number 3 is….
- Help someone It doesn’t need to be hours of volunteering or paying for a stranger in the Starbucks line. Simply helping someone put their shopping cart back in the grocery store is enough. Goodness breeds goodness, and your simple good deed will translate to another. Those simple acts will bring you to…
- Smile more The first half of 2020 has beaten us down. We are exhausted. We are tired. We are sad. We are angry. We are confused. It all shows on our faces. Chose to smile at your kids as you walk into your home office for the 200th time since quarantine started. Chose to wake up and be happy. Chose to put a smile on your face. It is a choice that can change your day.
- Exercise more Exercise is the fountain of youth in my opinion. Your joints move better, your skin improves, you walk taller and you become proud of the way your body works. In many parts of the country, gyms are still closed, but everyone has access to YouTube. (This is my exception to the social media detox). There are MILLIONS of exercise videos on YouTube, some use equipment, others just need you and your body. The act of simply getting up and moving will release endorphins that create happiness (making # 4 a little easier). Plus exercise helps you sleep better, which brings me to my next survival tip.
- Schedule down time It’s difficult to unplug from work when working from home. Instead of finishing dinner and enjoying time with your family who was knocking at your office door all day, it’s easy to want to finish that project or reply to an email. But, it is critical that you take the time for yourself and your family. When my daughter was born, I started putting a time block on my calendar simply so I would leave work to pick her up from day care. That was 16+ years ago, but the premise remains the same. You have to schedule time to do the things you WANT to do. Remembering why you work so hard along with the goodness and positivity in your life, brings me to # 7….
- Practice being grateful I struggle with this, so I have started keeping a list every day of five things that I am thankful for that day. Before I go to sleep at night, I repeat them to myself. Admittedly, some days, I’m simply thankful that I chilled a bottle of Chardonnay, but practicing being grateful sets me up for my next tip….
- Appreciate waking up in the morning I know, I sound like some silly guru at the top of the Himalayan Mountains, but it is true. Starting your day appreciating the fact that you have a job to go to, or a family that needs you or a pet that steps on your face each morning is a gift. These little wonders that make up the strands of life breathe energy into our day, and while my cat putting her cold nose on my elbow the moment my alarm goes off is not ideal, I appreciate having the unconditional love. So, remember to ….
- Acknowledge the love in your life It is easy to take our spouses, significant others, kids, pets, family, and high maintenance friends for granted. After all, THEY ARE ALWAYS THERE now. Always. They are there with smelly socks, dirty litter boxes, walks in the rain and endless drama. But, they are also there with love. They are the people that help us through the difficult times. They teach us about art and music, philosophy, patience (sometimes LOTS of patience). They show us that we are strong and resilient. They are our tribe, our love. And love can move mountains. So, wrapping up my list …
- Learn to love yourself You don’t need endless social media likes. You don’t need the world to agree with you. And, you certainly don’t need to point out every flaw. You need to look yourself in the mirror every day. You need to look at that person and know they are a good role model. You need to know that by choosing to be happy and smile and enjoy your place in this crazy world is a perfect place to be. You need to tell yourself that you love you. Because you are the only person like you. To quote Dr. Qubein, “you are extraordinary.” Love your extraordinary self.
Every day is a choice. Every choice leads you down a path. What choices will you make today that will make the rest of 2020 a place that you WANT to be? We have six months left to make the most of this year. Make them count. Make them worthwhile. And, most of all, make them extraordinary.