The word change characterizes this particular year 2020. Despite the massive changes, at least two things are sure:
- Our recent Thanksgiving festivities did not resemble what we have known so far.
- This Christmas will be different too.
How did you celebrate Thanksgiving? With your loved ones? Alone? Not at all? Do you still have anything to be grateful for?
You now have two choices to make.
- You focus on what you have missed out on and perhaps on what you still will this year.
- You embrace the change, looking forward to new things — potentially better things — you will experience this Christmas.
Changes are never easy. That’s why we tend to resist change.
You may not be able to see your entire family. You may not even know whether you will have the possibility to travel to your hometown or not. The government may discourage or limit interstate traveling. If you live abroad, you may already be looking for a plan B as traveling is not possible or too complicated.
It isn’t straightforward. I find it discouraging at times. Life has become complicated, and the absence of profound and meaningful face-to-face meetings with our friends and family has left its toll on us.
Recently as I traveled back to Southeast Asia, I had to endure a two-week quarantine. This dire perspective sucks out my happiness. I was not keen on spending two long weeks alone.
A few questions tormented me as I was preparing the suitcases for the long trip.
How am I going to survive such a prison-like condition?
Do I want to travel?
Shouldn’t I choose the easy way out and stay in my comfort zone?
Gratitude Helped Me Shift My Mindset
I was about to start my pity party when it dawned on me. “I can’t change my circumstances. But I can choose to give thanks for the gift in the form of an additional two weeks of (forced) vacation.”
When I began to say prayers of thanksgiving, I began to see the unique opportunity I had received.
The timing couldn’t have been any better. My editor had just sent me the copyedit of my new book, Single for a Season(coming in early 2021). As I had to stay in my house all day, I had plenty of time to revise the entire manuscript.
When waves of loneliness hit me, I began to say or sing prayers of thanksgiving. I experienced firsthand how gratitude enabled me to shift my mind.
I posted on social media:
“Some call it QUARANTINE. I call it A GIFT to work on my Sistine Chapel Project: my book, Single for a Season.“
My mindset shift made me happy.
The first days home alone were great. Then it became a bit more difficult. And when I learned that my quarantine would last a day or two longer than expected, I was inclined to complain.
“The COVID testing center has changed the organization. They’re now sending all samples to the capital,” they told me. “The new turnover has increased to 2 to 3 days.”
“Likely it’s going to be 3 days!” I thought. “And what if it’s 4 days?”
But instead of becoming frustrated, I chose to give thanks. I get additional time to relax, enjoy the beautiful yellow butterflies hovering in front of my window, and work on the book marketing.
I Wired a Gratitude Practice Into My Daily Routine
Gratitude doesn’t always come naturally to me. In general, my bias towards optimism helps me to see the positive in difficult situations.
Nevertheless, this year, the closed borders, limited travel, and reduced social interactions have affected my emotional state. Spending extended periods alone is no easy task. And the idea of spending Christmas away from family excites me even less.
I understood I had to be intentional about being grateful. I thus wired in a gratitude practice into my daily routine.
Before going to bed, I reflect on my day and select three things I choose to be grateful for:
- It may be as small as the smile produced on the face of my work colleague when I opened the door for him.
- Some evenings it’s the beautiful sunrise I marveled at while running around the rice fields
- Or the encouraging mentorship call in the afternoon.
When I say, “Thank you,” I feel better, and I enjoy a deeper sleep. Gratitude helps me to get up rested. I start the new day full of optimism, expecting it to be a good day.
Gratitude Changes the Meaning of This Season
The outlook is not that rose. We have to admit it.
When are we going to get our freedom back? Will I get the opportunity to see my bucket-list dream come to pass — traveling to all five continents? Will the economy reopen again?
Despite the uncertainty and the constant adaptation, I decided to give this season a new meaning.
I thought, “Why should I focus on the lockdown and #nolockdown?” The outlook of more negative consequences on my freedom and state of satisfaction left me worried, angry and stressed. I chose a much better hashtag instead: #lookup.
Reflecting on this year, I realized that the year of the pandemic brought along fantastic opportunities. The massive disruption in the way we’re doing life opened unique doors for me.
- Online courses enabled me to get access to a myriad of quality training — many for free.
- My remote biotech consulting services demand has seen a tremendous increase as employees are now working from home.
- My flexible schedule allowed me to focus on my Sistine Chapel Project: my book, Single for a Season, helping singles find meaning and happiness.
I choose to look up to my Hope — the One who holds my future in His hands. He is greater than any virus, economic turndown and educational disaster due to school closures.
Isn’t Christmas supposed to be a celebration of hope? Because of peace and a good hope given to us we celebrate Christmas. In the 18th century, Isaac Watts, an English Christian minister, hymn writer, theologian, and logician, penned a beautiful song that still reminds us today that the best is yet to come.
“Joy to the World; the Lord is come!”
What if Gratitude Enables You to Experience the Best Christmas Ever?
Why don’t you decide to believe that the Christmas season 2020 will be your best one?
Say prayers of thanksgiving — in advance — for the great things you’re going to experience this year.
In the words of Isaac Watts, “He comes to make his blessings flow.”
Look around you and see the many blessings in your life.
Tap into gratitude in this time of uncertainty. Gratitude has the power to give you the joy back. What if this Christmas season becomes the most joyful you’ve ever experienced?