Seems that with WAZE, Google Maps, and other similar apps everyone these days has their own “navi” system. Only problem is, the other day I plugged “Happiness” into one of these and the app exploded! I asked Siri, Alexa and even my Apple watch…no help. Could COVID19 have infected my course-plotting devices? Of course not. But during these sheltered-at-home days, any journey out needs to be swift, calculated and well-planned. That’s when it hit me. I needed to rely on a better GPS system, one that’s guided me well in the past and surely would do so during these emotionally strained times.
The Mantell GPS system! It’s free, easily adopted, and will lead you through the COVID19 emotional marshland to a far better destination than a grocery store or other “essential place” of business: Gratitude, Positivity and Sensitivity. Yep, there I go again with another #mantellacronym, but do you have a better GPS system? Can you think of anything we need more today than Gratitude, Positivity and Sensitivity?
The word gratitude is based in the Latin word, gratia, meaning grace, graciousness or gratefulness. It’s that under-rated and under-utilized “thankful appreciation for the good” we receive in life, whether from our own efforts or from other people, or a higher power. Super-star gratitude dudes know how to allow that same feeling of thankfulness to grow within them for those things, events, people, places, situations and circumstances that, on the surface, don’t look all that good. These gratitude expanders know that challenging times and discomfort in life always carry a deeper, sometimes hidden, value. But they know it’s always there and are therefore able to say and feel “Thanks” – get ready, here’s that “R” word – “regardless” of what’s on the surface.
The gratitude personality I strive for is one that recognizes there are no “no’s” in life—only a “yes” to be discovered, perhaps at another time and in another place.
Recent research has pointed to gratitude as an elixir of mental and physical health, alertness and happiness. No “navi” system has yet figured out how to direct anyone to happiness, but gratitude seems to be the “forgotten factor” in getting to happiness.
The 75 year-long revolutionary study that Harvard University has been running to assess what makes us happy, points to having positive relationships, particularly love, as the biggest predictor of fulfillment and happiness overall in life. Consider it social glue. If you have someone you can truly count on, with whom you share intimacies, if you have a number of friends with whom you can be authentic and express gratitude directly for positive experiences you’ve shared, your brain is more likely to stay healthy and you are more likely to experience less emotional pain.
Cicero observed, “Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.” Gratitude is entrenched deeply in our evolutionary past, our DNA, in our early lives. Our religion, our culture, the parenting we received or didn’t receive, all sway our predisposition towards experiencing gratitude.
Want to sleep better? Want to exercise more? Want to reduce stress, anger, anxiety and depression? Want to recover from traumatic events more quickly? Want to enjoy the simple things in life instead of focusing on what you don’t have that others do? Want to have a healthier set of priorities? Want to bring joy into the lives of others along with yourself? Need to recalibrate your negative thinking?
Start creating that thankful approach to every person, every circumstance, every place, everything in your life. Focus on what you feel most grateful for. Research at my alma mater, the University of Pennsylvania, tells us that your happiness will grow more from this activity, than from many other interventions.
Remember that gratitude is not just a feeling. It’s an action. Here are my top six actions to take to cultivate this “forgotten factor” and fire up the best GPS system to use during COVID19, and after:
1. Never miss an opportunity to express “thank–you”—preferably IRL—it’ll connect you to others in a positive way. As Meister Eckhart observed, “If ‘thank you’ is the only prayer you say, it’ll be enough.” Even it’s only mentally, it’ll suffice.
2. Meditate. If that sounds too “heavy” then at least think about people, places, things and events on a regular basis, that you can create the feeling of grateful for–past and present.
3. Post gratitude-growing sayings, phrases, posters, and prayers around your home. It’ll help you count your blessings. Some find it of benefit to keep a gratitude journal. I prefer appreciating in my mind, several things that went right every day and imagine every morning what might go right that day.
4. Recognize the good in everything. That’s right. Look for it. It’s there. Find a way to do what Kak Sri suggests, “Paint adversity into a lovely picture.” Prayer can be a wonderful method to cultivate an attitude of gratitude.
5. Mindful meditation, especially on a positive phrase such as, “This too is for the good” will help fuel a grateful, sensitive and positive mindset.
6. Change your language. We are not in a “war against COVID19.” We are not on the “frontline of healthcare.” We are not “waging a battle against this virus.” The words you use are firewood for your emotions. Use them carefully.
Gratitude, Positivity and Sensitivity in every step of your day will lead you to a healthier COVID19 experience. No, sheltering at home doesn’t have to be glum, and not being in physical contact with friends and loved ones doesn’t have to be dreary.
COVID19 carries with it the right, perhaps hidden, message when seen through my GPS system.
C – Cheerfulness carries you, and others, far
O – Optimism is always the right mindset
V – Vibrate with positivity
I – Illuminate your every interaction
D – Discover the delight in every day
That’s the secret message in COVID, and this “made for the times” GPS system, will surely take you there.