Much of the pain we face can feel like an experience that nobody else will understand.
Times of crisis mark a distinct moment in human history where we share that understanding. It's like a gigantic thought experiment. How will all our different personalities react under a pressure cooker? Yet one universal skill lies hidden beneath the surface—shaping your sense of peace, calm, security, and even happiness.
If you're a high achiever, you're probably attempting to push on as if everything is status quo. It's your way of controlling your environment.
If you're an optimist, you're hoping the world uses this experience to reshape our relationship with the earth, our work, and how we care for each other.
If you're a pessimist, you're already deep in your underground bunker with a shoddy wi-fi connection, eating pickled beets and Spam.
It might not be flashing-lights obvious, but there's a common thread to each of these people.
The high achiever is ignoring screaming signals of fear, doubt, and uncertainty. The optimist has a sense of hope tied up in a future outcome. The pessimist has given up and is no longer living, merely surviving.
When you mistake the present situation for being a problem outside of your immediate control, your sense of power dries up like a fish out of water. You feel hopeless about the circumstances you have no control over.
True happiness, opportunity, and peace are grounded in the present moment. Let that thought soak in before you attempt to unpack what I mean.
Even if you’re mulling over a memory, it takes your ability to be present with that thought to have a sense of happiness.
Even if your thoughts drift to a sense of opportunity, it was grounded in your ability to shape the present moment.
Even if you found a sense of peace wrap around you like a blanket on a chilly fall evening, it came from being thankful that at this moment you are safe.
Some of you will read the question I'm about to ask and assume I ate too many funny-looking mushrooms in the forest. But this question is the great equalizer for all personalities.
What do you love about your present life situation (despite the challenges that exist)?
For the high achiever, you might be thinking about how thankful you are that you have work that keeps you focused.
For the optimist, you might be thinking how thankful you feel to spend this time with the people you love.
For the pessimist, you might be thinking how thankful you are for canned meat and your foresight to plan ahead. I realize this one is a stretch, but as I said, the pessimist probably has shoddy wifi so it's doubtful he's even reading this.
Not all plans need elaborate action steps or complicated strategies to be life-changing. They don't even need to be time-consuming or take up a good chunk of your day.
The lesson here comes down to focusing on what you want to grow. A farmer isn't angry at a field for not growing corn overnight. A farmer plants seeds and tends the field every day because the important things in life take our daily and present attention. Love what you do, until you can do what you love.
If you want to reap the rewards of a happy, peaceful life filled with opportunity, begin your day by asking this question: What do you love about your present life situation (despite the challenges that exist)? And as a bonus, who do you love today (despite the quirks they have)?