15 Happy Things We Can Choose to Remember From the Pandemic
It's easy to only see the bad from this situation. But what if we choose to focus on the good?
I remember hearing horror stories about the Great Depression. My grandparents lived through it as youth. As a kid, it sounded horrible, terrifying, and unbearable, and it was. People flung themselves off buildings when they realized they had lost everything, people starved, soup kitchen lines were hours long, homeless populations skyrocketed. It’s easy to focus on the negative when it seems like that’s all there was.
But I’ve also heard other stories about that time. Stories of families and neighbors coming together to help one another, people learning self-sufficiency, the CCC was created, and inventions such as the car radio, tampons, Monopoly, and most importantly, chocolate chip cookies (!!!) were all born out of the Great Depression! Sometimes we don't see the gifts right away. Chicago economist Robert Lucas, Jr., once called the 1930s “one long vacation.” Sound familiar? I’ve heard the COVID-19 pandemic as being described as a "long vacation" as there was essentially a time-out. No work, no school, no lessons, no anything.
Now it’s officially Fall and we are all more than tired of hearing about the COVID-19 Pandemic. Every day for months we have heard the daily reports of COVID numbers, watched videos about masks, "Karens", civil unrest, and mud-slinging politics. Never in our lifetime have we seen the country (and world) so divided. It’s hard to step back and see anything good and positive.
But here is where we want to flip the script. We are on a mission to find and remind you of the good that is still in this world. What positive things can we remember and focus on that will help us get out of the other side of this and grow as people? What can we teach our grandchildren and their grandchildren years from now? The struggle and fighting? Or the community and humanity?
Stef and I were both affected in different ways. We both work in industries that were heavily affected by the pandemic. Stef works in travel and was given leave for a few months, so she didn’t work at all. I work in events and my organization sent most of us to work from home. Eventually, I start going in two days a week. Again, I know we can talk about all the downsides of these scenarios, but for now, stay with me, and let’s focus on the positives.
Here are a few things that we believe are the happy parts of what could be referred to as a really shitty situation.
I once heard Tony Ribbons say, “as humans, there is only one thing that we are all given an equal amount of and that is time.” We all get 24 hours in a day, how we spend it is up to us. With the Pandemic, we suddenly had ample amounts of time. Time to do more things. Things we had been meaning to do, things we always wanted to do, things we never thought we would get to do. Time is our most precious resource and suddenly we were all rich with it!
2. FAMILY BONDING
I realize this was not the case for all people, but we both got to see our families more than ever. Both of our husbands started working remote, for better or worse, they were home all the time. Our kids’ school went 100% online. The only one whose job wasn’t impacted was my oldest daughter who worked in an “essential business” (a car dealership?). Nevertheless, we had to figure out what to do with all this quality time. Families flocked to stores and cleaned out online inventories of puzzles, games, and crafts. My nieces temporarily came home from each side of the country because it felt safer to live with their parents than be holed up in their tiny apartments. Stef’s son also came home from the east coast. As parents, there is nothing better than having your kids by your side in times of crisis. We also checked in with our parents and in-laws more often. There was a thought of losing them before their time and that became an unacceptable thought.
3. CATCHING UP WITH FRIENDS
Social Media became a flurry of well wishes and status updates from people experiencing their own version of local lockdowns. I started checking in on friends more often and reaching out to those I missed. I felt special bonds with people that I hadn’t seen in years. I spent hours talking with friends online, text, and phone. This is the sole reason this blog exists. I reached out to Stef, my life-long best friend whom I had been disconnected from for way too long. It’s interesting how once we are told we can’t see each other how much more these connections matter.
4. FINISHING OR CREATING NEW PROJECTS
I’m throwing this one in out of envy. While I would love to say that my husband and I made incredible progress on the long list of unfinished projects we have around the house, it isn’t true. They are still as unfinished today as they were six months ago. But Stef and her family made an impulse purchase and bought two adorable ducks. Then they built an adorable house for them in their back yard. I’ve also seen some incredible home improvement projects; ponds, gazebos, fire pits, repainting of rooms, flower gardens, and more have popped up on my social media feeds over the summer. As one guy I know said, "my yard has never looked so good, but I have never been so tired of mowing my lawn." Home improvement stores have never been so busy with people tackling overdue and dream projects. <sigh> One day my husband WILL join in on this bandwagon.
We live in Utah, where nature is abundant. Since traveling is frowned upon for now, people have flocked to the local mountain trails, National Parks, deserts, and lakes. We are so fortunate to have what we have here and to find solace in these peaceful places. Our planet is incredibly beautiful and I believe the pandemic has pushed us into nature and helped us appreciate it even more.
6. VIRAL VIDEOS
Okay, this one can go a few different ways, but remember, we’re focusing on the positive! People have been quick to get out their phones to capture some pretty awesome things. For example, the video of New York’s nightly applause for health care workers, or the guy on his balcony playing the national anthem on his guitar. My husband's favorite was the guy reuniting with his donkey after being separated due to the pandemic, and of course, “Some Good News with Jon Krasinski”.
7. NEEDS, NOT WANTS
Some of the strangest things became status symbols; toilet paper, paper towels, hand sanitizer, masks, disposable gloves. Suddenly we didn’t care about the extravagant things, just give me the basics to let my family be okay – food, sanitary supplies, cleaning supplies, and something to do. Spending dropped dramatically. I didn’t spend a dime on makeup, clothes, subscription boxes, or random online purchases (I may or may not have a weird addiction to Amazon and QVC). We barely even needed gas anymore since we barely left the house. Suddenly my weekly trips to T.J. Maxx and Nordstrom Rack became a thing of the past. After a while, I realized how much money I spent on foolish things that I didn’t really need and how much I valued making sure my family was cared for. What an eye-opener.
8. DIGITAL NECESSITY
If we weren’t convinced before, there is no denying it now. We are definitely in the digital age. This year, the internet became a lifeline. Zoom Meetings have taken over the world. I’ve never watched so many shows on Netflix. No longer is the internet seen as a luxury, it is a requirement. I, like many others took advantage of the many free virtual educational courses, masterclasses, and online challenges that sprang up. I found some incredible new gurus. I did two meditation challenges, three personal development challenges, and five online courses. I dont say this to brag, but to point out the opportunities that are available to us all! I learned SO MUCH about myself, my business, and planning my future. There are still many courses still happening each week! I found most of mine on Facebook with people like Gabby Bernstein, Emily Aarons, Brendan Buchard, Tony Robbins, Dean Graziosi, Les Brown, and more! You are sure to find gurus in industries you are interested in too!
9. SLEEPING IN WITH NO WHERE TO GO
Does this one even need an explanation?
10. GIRL (OR GUY) BONDING TIME
Once the regulations lifted some in our area, we were able to start gathering in “small groups”. So, a few of us started hiking daily. It was usually only a two-mile (uphill) hike, but it was glorious to get out of the house and have some girl time. I had forgotten how important girl time was. Over the years, I had allowed myself to see friends less and less and focus on work and family. The pandemic made me realize how much joy I had robbed myself by allowing this to happen. Never again will devalue friendship. It is too important for my mental wellness.
11. PANDEMIC FASHION
It was like a dream; PJ pants (or shorts), messy bun, and no makeup. Showering? Optional. If I had a zoom meeting then ok, I put on a nicer shirt, a little blush, and some mascara. But other than that, not a thing changed from my pandemic outfit. Sometimes I would sleep in the same outfit I wore all day, wakeup, and still not change my clothes. It. Was. Amazing.
12. NEIGHBORS AND COMMUNITY
I will not forget the day my neighbor brought us over a loaf of fresh-baked bread. It was within the first week of lockdown. She left it on our doorstep with a note and it meant the world to me that she would think of us. My mom has amazing neighbors who were constantly checking on her and helping her with yard work. A local bike shop in my neighborhood placed a cabinet outside their front door stocked with free food for anyone who might be in need. I saw people posting on social media groups offering groceries, supplies, or services for free to local people in need. On top of COVID, our state was rocked with a 5.7 earthquake in March. It didn’t cause a lot of damage, but it was an unwelcome occurrence that made you feel like the world was likely ending. People began rushing to each other’s aid to comfort and calm those who were emotionally struggling. It was incredible.
13. DRIVE-BY CELEBRATIONS
I’ve seen countless videos and pictures of people having drive-by birthdays, weddings, and celebrations. While it’s certainly not as personal as a real party, it’s a memory maker of its own kind. Stef had a son return home from a two-year church service mission, and normally there is a party, but not during a pandemic. Instead, her neighbors planned a welcome home parade. They made signs and stood in front of their homes cheering when he drove up the street. I’ve seen the police, firefighters, neighbors, and even strangers decorate their cars, and drive past a home honking and cheering like a personalized parade for children and even the elderly celebrating a birthday. It’s a unique way to celebrate in a unique time.
14. LEARNING NEW THINGS
I’ve had friends take on new challenges like learning to bake, trying new recipes, putting in a garden for the first time, canning, learning to watercolor, and so many other things. Growth is one of the greatest triggers of joy. My family is probably rolling their eyes as they read this but it is forever true: If you’re not growing, you’re dying. Learning can and should happen no matter your age.
15. SOCIALLY DISTANCED BUT NOT ALONE
Worldwide, there were fun, innovative, and awesome ways we saw people bonding and finding joy in small things. This YouTube video by HumanKind shows people around the world playing socially distanced games, dancing, singing, and generally making the best of a crappy situation.
In the end, what will you choose to focus on? The hardship, the stress, and the turmoil? Or the beautiful, connected, loving moments? And even more importantly, what part of the story do you fit in to?