I don’t like uncertainty. I sometimes read the last chapter of a book when I’m halfway through if I’m getting nervous about what happens in the end. Same thing for the finales of TV shows – I’ll sometimes record the show and wait to read the spoilers before watching.
My life can be unsettling and uncertain enough without feeling anxiety about books and TV.
And now we live with global uncertainty. The things
we used to take for granted are now in question. Many are concerned about their health, having enough money and food, being employed. We don’t know what’s going to happen next.
The truth is we rarely know what’s going to happen next. I learned this lesson in a powerful way in 2001-2002. Within 13 months our family witnessed 9/11, experienced the death of someone relatively young and seemingly healthy, and lived through the Beltway snipers gunning down people at places we frequented in the DC metropolitan area.
You have stories, too. Times when your life turned upside down. So we already know life can be unpredictable. But we forget that fact. The odds are usually very good that our days will play out the way we expect them to. Breakfast, school, work, traffic. Now our day-to-day lives have been upended.
I’ve had chronic anxiety and depression in my life. My depression often occurred when my mind was mired in the past – things I should have done. My anxiety happened and continues to happen when my mind is in the future – will we be able to get food? Can we remain healthy? Will the nurses in my family continue to be well while going to work to help others? Will our family members with chronic diseases weather this storm? And on and on ….
The only way I can get my head out of the future is to be very focused on the present and practice gratitude. I don’t know what’s next. But in this moment I am healthy. In this moment I can take a deep breath and be grateful for the miracle of how my body works. In this moment we have enough food and are safe and warm and dry.
This moment. This moment is all we have. Find your gratitude for what you have in this moment and pull your mind back from the future. Gratitude research says you don’t have to be grateful for everything in your life, just that you find something for which to be grateful. Finding at least one thing for which to be grateful calms your body, which also strengthens your immune system. With a calmer mind and body, you will make decisions from a place of increasing peace rather than increasing fear.
In this moment, for what and for whom are you grateful?
By Joni Miller, Ph.D. © 2020
Photo by Sandra Ahn Mode on Unsplash
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