Thursday, 16 April 2020 08:54

What We’re Feeling Grateful for During This Challenging Time

While the coronavirus pandemic can be deeply stressful, it also gives us the opportunity to take note of the things we typically take for granted.


By Marina Khidekel, Head of Content Development at Thrive Global
Bbernard/ Shutterstock
Bbernard/ Shutterstock
We’re all doing what we can to stay healthy right now — we’re (hopefully!) washing our hands, socially distancing, trying to get adequate sleep, staying active, and eating nutritious meals — but we often forget that gratitude plays an important role in lowering our stress levels, which is key for strengthening our immunity, too. Research even shows that gratitude can boost our mental and physical health.

We asked our Thrive community to share the unexpected or surprising things they’re especially grateful for during this challenging time. Which of these are you grateful for today?

Family bonding time

“I am so grateful for the extra time I get to spend with my middle-school aged children right now, who are growing up so quickly. I have introduced them to my favorite old movies, like The Parent Trap and Swiss Family Robinson. They have set me up with a TikTok account and taught me several dances. We have also dusted off the old sidewalk chalk and board games to fill our evenings. I cannot remember a time in the past when I have been so present.”

—Tara Bethell, founder and CEO, AZ

Morning walks

“My morning walk is one of the unexpected rituals that I’ve developed during this time, and I’m grateful for the new routine. The cool morning air, lack of people, and quiet enable me to process my thoughts and keep healthy. The walks have also been ways to connect with several people who greet me whenever I am on my walks, and we greet one another as we walk along.”

—Arulnathan John, copywriter, Singapore, SG

The chance to slow down

“One thing I’m grateful for during this time has been the opportunity to slow down — and to be more thoughtful in my work and where I spend my time and energy. I have looked back at my calendar and reconnected with people I have met over the last year. The result has brought me incredible joy and energy, thought-provoking conversations, and a sense of authentic connection in a time of physical distancing.”

—Surabhi Lal, strategist and educator, New York, NY

Nightly stargazing

“We bought a cheap but powerful set of binoculars before the pandemic and we’ve been using them to stargaze in our backyard. They may not be as powerful as a telescope, but they’re good enough to define constellations and really see that super moon. I’ve loved teaching my kids about the night sky. It’s a bonus when we listen to the sound of the ocean at the same time!”

—Jill Reed, writer, Brasilito, Guanacaste, Costa Rica

A supportive partner

“During these stressful and overwhelming times, I have found that I am extremely grateful for my partner and for our life together. He has been my rock through all of these adjustments, and strives every day to make my life easier, as much as he can. We are in the middle of postponing our wedding and he has taken the lead on so much in order to help reduce my anxiety and help make it a wonderful day that we both have been dreaming about. He has truly embodied our future vows ‘for better, for worse.’ We joke around that this social isolation has been the perfect pre-marriage counseling, as we are growing closer together each day.”

—Danielle DiGregory, senior accountant, Indianapolis, IN

Springtime

“I have been surprised by my enhanced appreciation for the beauty of nature. We have been blessed with several sunny and mild days in Vancouver. Before I start my workday, I wake up early in the morning to see the sunlight streaming through my bedroom window. As I perch on my bed to start making calls, sending emails, and working on projects, my spirit is buoyed by the warmth of the sun. Spring has always been a favorite season, but this year, I am appreciating what feels like a message from the universe reminding me of resilience, hope, and faith.”

—Elizabeth Bishop, educator and consultant, Vancouver, BC, Canada

Noise-cancelling headphones

“It’s really small and silly, but I’m grateful for my noise-cancelling headphones that allow me to meditate even when my husband is on a conference call. I’m someone who craves silence, so having the extra assistance to quiet the noise for a few minutes a day is super helpful right now. “

—Lisa Abramson, executive coach and mindfulness teacher, San Francisco, CA

An extra dog-walking buddy

“My 13-year old son has been joining me when I walk the dog. Before COVID-19, I was working from home, writing a book, and then planning its promotion. Dog walks could get lonely and tedious. Now that my son tags along, the dog is especially grateful for longer walks because we have the time, and each other’s company. I love the extended casual time I get to spend with my son, chatting and walking. It seems small, but I think we are solidifying our relationship in ways we will only realize later.”

—Deb Gordon, health care leader and author, Cambridge, MA

Art projects

“I’m really grateful for artists and illustrators who are releasing blank pictures to be colored in. One artist, Jonas Claesson, has been releasing these whimsical drawing pages every few days. My daughter and I get so excited when a new one comes out, and we both get markers or colored pencils and color our own page. It’s a great joint project to do during the day.”

—Mark Jones, attorney and consultant, Mill Valley, CA

Family movie night

“I have been unexpectedly grateful for movies. I don’t typically watch a lot of movies, but social distancing has given my family and I the opportunity to bond over family movie nights! Each family member has the ability to pick a movie of their choice each week. We cook homemade popcorn together and spend time talking about our favorite parts after the movie is over!”

—Brianna LaPrell, accountant, Buffalo, NY

Resilient family members

“I am enormously grateful for my daughter, who is a high school senior. She is missing prom and graduation, and college in the fall is uncertain. But she is soldiering through with a fair bit of hilarity and remarkable emotional maturity. We are closer than ever, and this feels like an amazing gift at a troubling time.”

—Nancy Jackson, philanthropic advisor, Lawrence, KS

Virtual celebrations

“So many people have commented that this distancing is bringing people closer together, and it’s true. We have standing weekly cocktails with our friends and neighbors on Zoom — including one family that moved in August. It is wonderful to talk, laugh, catch up, and commiserate. The same is true for the holidays. Like nearly every other Jew in the world, we had a Zoom seder, and it was the first time in years that all three of us sisters and our families were together.”

—Jane Randel, social impact consultant, Maplewood, NJ

Increased creative time

“I am grateful that I have more time to read and write. These are two of my favorite things to do, and I have started writing again during this time, and I am taking it more seriously now.”

—Sarah Solomon, freelance publicist, Asheville, NC

Online learning

“I have found extreme gratitude in learning. I’ve always enjoyed learning new things, and find myself to be one of those people who needs to know everything before being able to start. Now, so many companies are offering knowledge for free, and I am reveling in these opportunities! Free courses, Facebook groups, and communities all over the place are coming together to support each other and grow together.”

—Brittany Martin, content creator, Kent, UK

Restored connections

“The pandemic coronavirus has been an eye-opener for me — there are many things that I am learning about my father that fill my heart with gratitude. The social isolation has made me see how caring, smart, and great he is.I am getting to understand that my father’s love language is serving, and I am thankful for that. I am thankful I am living to appreciate my father because he keeps showing me that he has feelings just like me. I am thankful that now I can have an open conversation with him. Every single day, I appreciate and better understand my dad during this time.”

—Maria Júlio, job searcher, Benguela, Angola

Time to reflect

“I am especially grateful for this pause to be able to reflect on what’s important to me — to ask myself whether all aspects of my life are purposefully aligned or whether some areas need grooming. Sometimes we get so caught up with our day-to-day obligations and we don’t take time to sit back and listen to what our inner voice might be telling us. I am thankful to be able to have quiet mornings to hang out with my heart and contemplate the answers to these questions that oftentimes become so difficult to hear amidst the noise.”

—Jeannette Paulino, management consultant, Dubai

Virtual community

“I am feeling extremely grateful for discovering that there are people that are ready to offer you a helping hand even if they don’t know you at all, especially online. I’ve never managed to connect with the online community, and saw it as something superficial, but this situation showed me that even complete strangers are there for you if you need them.”

—Anastasia Shcherbakova, marketing consultant, Moscow, Russia

Our own strength

“During this time, I am grateful for my own resilience. I live alone and I tend toward depression and anxiety, and this lockdown has shown me how to take care of myself, how to take care of my body, and how to give myself the space I need to vent. I have learned that emotions are normal, as sometimes I feel sad and sometimes I feel very at peace. I meditate every day, and I do my virtual yoga each week. I have gotten closer to some friends, and I have also reached out to some of them when I feel low. Noticing the things for which to be grateful has gotten me to a space of acceptance and understanding.”

—Michelle Aybar, country manager, Dominican Republic

(Thrive Global)

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