I’ve been thinking a lot about what I am actually feeling these days. It’s a confusing and unsettling time.
A few weeks ago I know what I was feeling: overwhelmed. The first moments of the coronavirus pandemic were all crisis management, all the time. The boundary between work and home had blurred, so every waking moment felt like work. The issues were new, and hard. Family, friends and colleagues all needed support. It was an awful lot to take on all at once. I’m sure many of you – or most – felt just the same.
As we settle into the new normal, now I am feeling something else. At work, managing the extraordinary challenges and opportunities of the coronavirus has started to take on a pattern of its own. Family, friends and colleagues are all adjusting, showing amazing grit and adaptability.
So what is it? Depending on the day, of course, I feel the usual mix of joy and frustration, determination and fatigue. But the main theme in my heart these days is, simply, gratitude. In this period of unprecedented challenge and disruption, and in a time of suffering for so many, I find myself immensely grateful for the people in my life and the luck that I’ve had. Including my great luck to be part of the Mastercard family.
If you read the news regularly, you’ll see a lot of recommendations for how people can sustain their mental health during the crisis. Many of those start with asking us to recall what we are grateful for in our lives. This isn’t at all surprising. All major faith traditions in the world have profoundly beautiful prayers grounded in gratitude. Meditative traditions draw deeply on gratitude, too. For human beings, it seems, the path to peace of mind runs through gratitude.
The coronavirus disruption has allowed me to see, almost for the first time, things right in front of me for which I am deeply grateful. It is springtime in Connecticut, and the flowers are coming up beautifully. Like many of you, my children are at home with my wife and me. We’ve enjoyed more family meals together in the last month than in the last two years. We’ve talked. We’ve watched movies. I’ve talked my daughters into watching science fiction – it has been years of “yuck, no!” – and they, in turn, have talked me into getting a dog. Two in fact. Two Welsh Pembroke Corgi puppies, who arrived at the Murphy house this month. Heaven help me! But I am grateful for all of this. Most of it (other than the puppies!) has been there all the time, hiding in plain sight.
I also find myself deeply grateful for my wonderful team at Mastercard. This will sound corny, but honestly, my heart leapt a little at seeing the faces of my friends and colleagues of so many years when we held our first videoconference following the orders to work from home. We have fought many good fights together and accomplished much. It was great to see them well and smiling. Their hair was a little longer (this will become a big problem soon), their clothes were a little more rumpled (it was early morning), but they were the same good folks they have always been. They are working incredibly hard to help ensure our collective future is as bright as our past, as we all are. I got a glimpse of their houses and apartments in the background, which felt like they were sharing with us a little window into their true selves. That was a gift, and I am grateful for it too.
And then there are the families of my colleagues. I’ve spoken to so many whose partners, spouses or children are doctors, paramedics, nurses, hospital administrators – the frontline heroes who are in the teeth of the crisis. One day those heroes will bring the virus to heel, and they deserve our deepest gratitude. But our colleagues with families on the front line do too. It is one thing to navigate through the crisis, keep our families safe, and do a good job for our companies. It is another thing entirely to do all that, and to be the succor and strength for a frontline hero besides. Gratitude doesn’t begin to describe it.
In the middle of all the pain and disruption the coronavirus has brought us, there is much to be grateful for. By paying attention to gratitude as a way to manage our own response to the crisis, we can strengthen our resolve and our capacity to meet the challenges ahead. Colleagues and friends, stay safe – and stay grateful!
Originally published on LinkedIn.com