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April 29, 2020 | KELLY MCLOUGHLIN

“Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.”

-Dalai Lama

This reflection sponsored by the letter “P”.

It was right around Friday, March 13th when the impact of COVID-19 started to materialize in a personal way for me.

The last time I drove anywhere for work was March 11th. Normally I drive all over the Archdiocese several times a week since I live in Santa Maria, provide support to parishes throughout the Santa Barbara region and attend meetings at the Archdiocesan offices in downtown LA. When I look back to the last day I drove, I can’t believe how much has changed in just a few weeks.

It is almost always easy for people to pull together and unify for things in a short term way. It is an entirely different situation when it starts to last for a longer period of time like it is now with our stay at home order in week seven. We start to see people begin to not like the “we are in this together” mantra. The media started labeling all of us as having “quarantine fatigue”. People can begin to lose their PATIENCE.

The closures, postponements and cancelations are beginning to go beyond April and potentially creep into summer. We are growing weary of not being able to gather in person to spend time with family and friends. We have to dig deep and find the resilience to PERSEVERE.

How do we find the strength to PERSEVERE? I think one of the biggest ways is with POSITIVITY.

I am sharing some actions I have taken to persevere and be positive during this stay at home life.

Make a list of the things we consider simple pleasures and enjoy them. These are little things that make you smile. Some things on my list are watching a Hallmark movie, sleeping in on a weekend morning, baking cookies (this has intensified during the stay at home order) and playing dominoes with my family.

I love quotes and one of my favorite is “every day might not be good, but there is something good in every day.” It is tough to accept all of the things that have happened during this pandemic yet, we can prime our brain to focus on positivity or negativity.

My daughter had an amazing professor in college who taught Personal Development and she suggested her students post a sign on their front door that reads “only positive thoughts beyond this point” to remind themselves and anyone who comes in to be positive and happy. I think we should post the sign on our front door for the rest of our stay at home time.

Some other proven ways to be positive are:

  • Choose joy
  • First thing in the morning decide “today is going to be a good day”.
  • Laugh
  • Be kind to yourself so you can be happy enough to be kind to the world.
  • Stop complaining
  • Find something to look forward to.
  • Anticipation makes happiness more intense. We can make a list right now called “when this is over…”. I have seen this idea floating on social media asking people what is the first thing they are going to do when the stay at home is lifted. I think we may have a lot on our lists in common: attend Mass and receive the Eucharist, hug friends and family, go to a movie, go to your favorite restaurant or get hair cut/colored.

We all have so much we are looking forward to doing again that we took for granted before COVID-19.

In the meantime, let’s focus on the “P’s” patience, perseverance and positivity.