Focusing on the positive when life as we know it is on hold

Maureen Feighan
The Detroit News

Just two days into what will likely be a very long period at home, my husband hugged me while I was washing dishes in the kitchen.

“I’m so happy to have us all together,” he said.

Happy? Talk about focusing on the positive. As the world as we know it grinds to what will hopefully be a temporary halt, it’s hard to see the silver lining. Is there an upside to social distancing? The possible collapse of our economy? Panic-shopping? School being out for at least 3 weeks? Being quarantined at home for weeks on end?

How long will the COVID-19 virus keep millions at home? It isn't clear.

As challenging as this stressful period is, I’m choosing to believe there is an upside. We’re spending time with our children and developing a whole new appreciation for the teachers who work with our children every day.

We’re lucky that we have phones, social media, Netflix and cable television to keep us occupied, connected and not bored. I can’t imagine being quarantined and not being able to connect with loved ones. But we can. Our phones and computers are a godsend. 

And how lucky we are that if the world as we know had it had to temporarily shut down it happened in March. It isn’t January and it isn’t July. I’m grateful for sunshine.

Experts say the best thing we can teach our children is resilience (there’s actually an entire field of study now based on this called Resilience Science). We can’t control what life will throw at any of us, including our kids, and this pandemic has proven that. What we can teach them is grit. Even through the tough times – enduring “Mom School” at home and not being able to see friends – we will endure. And we’ll be stronger in the end.

Spending so much time with my children and husband – though my special needs daughter requires constant attention – has given me a new appreciation for the little things. We’ve gone for daily walks, started a family podcast and played catch outside. Sometimes I watch my daughter put together yet another Lego creation and I think, “I’m lucky just to be here.” She’s healthy, for now, so I’ll do anything to protect that.

Americans pride themselves on being endlessly busy. Busy isn’t just a state of being; it’s a status symbol. The busier we are, the more we have to show for ourselves. 

The coronavirus pandemic has forced us all to slow down and re-evaluate the idea that a constant state of activity is good. It isn’t. That’s another silver lining.

The hardest thing we have to do is stay home right now. The people on the front lines of this pandemic – the health care workers, first-responders, grocery store employees – are doing the true work. 

So we have a choice over the next several weeks: stay calm and do the best that we can. Or panic and fret that the world is ending. Yes, life as we know is drastically different as this moment in time. But we’ll be OK and more resilient in the end. I’m choosing to be positive.