“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” — Viktor E. Frankl
While so many people are laid off, furloughed or working from home, many of our men and women in uniform are going to work, answering calls as if nothing has changed. But regardless of whether we are at work or at home, the circumstances of our new life provide unique opportunities for growing into the people we should be.
What is happening is a reminder that we are finite people. No longer do the worlds of sports, social media and Hollywood seem important. What should be our real priorities, our families and neighbors, are becoming paramount, even if we’re not sure exactly what to do about it.
Let’s leave aside questions of how bad a health crisis COVID-19 is, and whether our politicians are handling it correctly or capitalizing on it for political gain. How we respond to this crisis is in our power, and that is what makes a difference for us and those in our circles of influence. With a good response, we use the gift of this opportunity to become the people we ought to be; this is doing our part for the greater good and ourselves.
The silver linings
I am seeing silver linings in this bizarre world. With restaurants, bars, movie theaters, gyms and almost everything else closed, here is a list of ideas for things you can do for yourself and your family. Start taking care of yourself better, at least as well as you care for your pet(s). You are no good to anyone if you don’t take care of yourself.
- Get enough sleep.
- Drink more water.
- Eat healthier today so you will feel better tomorrow.
- Be more aware of your spouse’s needs.
- Enjoy the incredible blessing of being around your children.
- Serve others in need, such as a family member, a neighbor, etc.
- Clean your house or car.
- Start a garden.
- Plant a tree.
- Build something you’ve always wanted.
- Appreciate the small things in life more.
- Notice the beauty in slowing your life down.
- Go for a walk with your family.
- Focus on what’s in front of you.
- Do something behind the scenes to make your spouse’s life easier.
- Send a note to someone you haven’t talked to in a while.
- Have a picnic with your family in the backyard.
- Be serious about minimizing distractions.
- Silence your phone for a part of your day.
- Do some yard work that you’ve been putting off.
- Clean out junk drawers in your house.
- Clean your garage of “stuff” you never use.
- Stop doing things that make you sluggish.
- Have that conversation with your children that you’ve put off.
- Enjoy this opportunity to do things with your family.
- Have a meal delivered to a friend going through a stressful time.
- Check on a neighbor who lives alone.
Don’t forget the oath we took about service to others! Focus on helping, not hunting, at work. Go out of your way to help someone daily. Check on the elderly people you know on your beat.
Mark Reinecke, a psychologist and clinical director at the Child Mind Institute in San Mateo, California, agrees that “optimism, hope and tenacity” are necessary for getting through any challenge, however dire. Reinecke went on to say, “By forcing us into our homes, this pandemic has made our worlds small. We’re pressed into reconnecting in a more intimate, thoughtful manner. We’re pressed to enjoy simple experiences and activities.” Above all, this experience can teach all of us a valuable life skill: resilience.
Let us be mindful of the countless people who are also serving: the doctors, nurses, 9-1-1 dispatchers, garbage collectors, grocery store employees, truck drivers, coffeeshop employees, and all those others we often take for granted. Let us be grateful that during this time we can serve others and get paid for it. That is the gift our job gives to us.
Brian Mc Vey, MAP, is a proud father, former Chicago police officer and freelance writer. He has a master’s degree in police psychology from Adler University in Chicago. Email him at email@example.com.