Having Courage

25 Mar

Aloha is...having courage when things go wrong.  

Today, I received a video on my Instant Messenger from one of my Facebook friends.  In this video is a man who recorded himself saying a message that he insists you hear.

"I need you to know something - yeah, you!," he starts off saying.  "I need you to know that you are awesome!"

Then, he goes on and on to say how awesome I am for about a minute.   

How could I not smile?  How could that not lift my spirits even the tiniest bit?  It was a kind gesture to send it out, so I paid that kindness forward by sending it to others. And, I hope they did, too.

It also took some courage to send this message out.  Why?  There are many people who might not like or be open to seeing or hearing this kind of message right now.  In fact, they might be in no mood whatsoever. There are some people who are not only negative normally, but now are also angry, anxious and afraid beyond measure.

In light of the pandemic sweeping our nation and the world, people have either been forced or strongly encouraged to leave their jobs and work from home.  And, those people might be the lucky ones.  There are many others who were forced to leave their jobs permanently and file for unemployment. Some small businesses have even had to shut down completely.  

Children are forced to stay home from school and be homeschooled, while other children don't even have access to homeschooling.  Some parents have to manage working from home with a house full of kids or other distractions, making it hard to concentrate on the tasks at hand by day. Then, by night, they lie in bed, restless and worried about what tomorrow may bring.  Will their hours, pay or even their jobs be cut next?  

To some high school seniors, this may feel like the biggest case of "senioritis" ever while others are disappointed because they were looking forward to graduation, proudly walking across the stage in their caps and gowns, and ready for a future much brighter than the one being shown to them now. As for the college seniors, this toxic dose of our new reality has not only left them feeling robbed of their commencements as well, but also sick with worry as to what the real world may have in store for them next.

While Life as we know it has changed, there is one thing I know for sure: love, kindness, compassion and courage are the only devices we really have to get us through this.  It is up to you whether or not you want to use them.  I hope you don't let this pandemic take these away from you, too.

It is normal to respond and react out of emotion in challenging times.  But, try to remember what is most important in times like these.  Of course, having the money to feed your family and keep a roof over your head is important.  But how you handle a crisis or a challenge is what will determine your outcome.  Keeping your attitude and thoughts as positive as possible will create more positive actions.  And, more positive actions will net more positive results and outcomes.  It is OK to have your moments when you feel scared, alone and anxious.  But do your best to work through them.  This requires keeping your mind clear and open to possibilities as much as possible.  How?  Here are some ideas:

Practice self-care.  Move your body to move your mind.  You need to exercise in any way that best suits your physical abilities.  Walk around your house, go up and down the stairs, do pushups, do jumping jacks or dance in the house with your kids.  You can even just repeat standing up and sitting down several times from your chair.  Anything and everything will help!  Just get that blood flowing because movement produces feel-good hormones in your body called endorphins. This boost in circulation and endorphins will help keep your mind clearer and more positive.  Also, consider saying positive affirmations, meditating, praying and breathing exercises.  Get on YouTube and search for guided meditation. Do it by yourself or as a family to help keep you calm, quiet, still and in the present moment.  Learning how to stay calm and relaxed as much as possible is a great practice for everyone in times of hardship and uncertainty.

Practice self-compassion and kindness.  Be kinder, gentler and more loving with yourself and others around you right now.  It will help keep you and others from a downward spiral of negative emotions that will not end up well.  During this time, I have read or witnessed many acts of kindness between strangers.  One friend on Facebook witnessed someone pay for someone else's purchases at a pharmacy when they realized they didn't have enough money to pay the total.  People are offering to look after their neighbors, especially the elderly to make sure they have enough food and supplies.  People are sharing jokes or light-hearted stories to make each other smile.  People are offering free workouts and storytelling over the internet to get people moving their bodies or keeping children engaged.  So, do your part in practicing compassion and kindness.  Look after each other and practice reassurance.  Your kids are picking up on your energy.  Now is the time to teach them what courage and kindness really mean.

Make the most of what you have right now.  Take a look around you.  Are you healthy? Is your family healthy? Are you together?  Do you have food and shelter?  Do you have electricity and running water?  If there is anything this pandemic should be teaching us it's to focus on the present, be grateful for the people and the things we have in our lives and to be mindful of how quickly things can change.  We simply cannot take anything or anyone for granted anymore.  When I worked with the elderly, they would always say that your health was the most important thing because without it, what do you really have?  They would also talk about their regrets or how they didn't have any regrets because they understood how precious Life really is.  Even if you live to be 90 years old, Life is short.  So, make the most of this time to appreciate your life and everyone in it because you don't know what is around the corner.

Be happy with simple pleasures.  Life in America usually has most people running in circles. For instance, if you're living the life of a soccer mom, your mile-long to-do list is stuck like glue to your hand.  You are either running from dropping your kid off at school to work; from work to your kid's sports or dentist appointment; from your appointments to the grocery store; from shopping to house chores and the list goes on.  Americans are always on the go and our lives have become one big drive-thru.  Can you choose this time to focus on simple activities to help you stay in the present and keep your mind calm?  Reduce your to-do list to a manageable size.  Does everything have to be done today?  Can you delegate your list while everyone is home?  Since the pandemic hit we are no longer running off to practice, children's birthday parties or any other events or commitments like we used to.  Do you see how you can make your life simpler?  A family board game.  Cooking as a family.  Watching a movie together on the couch or a bunch of pillows on the floor.  Talking on the phone with your bestie. Watering your garden.  Reading a book.  Doing a crossword puzzle. Playing music and singing your favorite tunes.  Hugging your dog.  Let's get back to our roots of happiness.- the simple pleasures in life.

Have courage.  In the face of hardship, challenges, danger or threats against our current ways of living, I encourage you to do all that you can to be brave.  Being brave does not mean not being afraid. It does not mean being naive, reckless or risky.  Being brave means not only being able to face the most difficult and uncomfortable moments imaginable head on, but it also means being willing to move forward despite your fears.  Take a deep breath.  Take it one day at a time.  And, take it easy on yourself.  Choose to believe in yourself. Choose to believe that we will all somehow get through this together.  It takes courage to believe in these things.  Choose courage!

Even though times are tough, I believe this too shall pass and I believe in you, Pineapple.

Live, Love and Lead with Aloha.


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