Hello and welcome to this glorious Friday, April 17, 2020! This is a rare and precious day that will never come again. “For the moment, what we attend to becomes our reality.” ~ William James I have found peace in these troublesome times. I’ve said it the last couple of weeks and I’ll say it again here: in no way am I trying to sugarcoat the seriousness of COVID -19. Nevertheless, it’s important to remember that what we pay attention grows, expands and becomes our reality. Many of us tend to focus on negativity and what’s wrong. The media doesn’t help. For the last few weeks, the first thing listed in my news feed is the current COVID-19 infection numbers and death toll. I didn’t ask for it to be there, someone just felt that it’s something that I might want to know. As we’ve talked about in the past, we tend to have a negativity bias and, in many ways, we catastrophize. As strange as it may seem, it’s almost as if we want things to get worse. It makes for a better story. Now I don’t believe that anyone really wants more suffering, at least I have not met anyone who did, but isn’t there a strong pull towards the negative? Though there are websites and news agencies that report only uplifting stories, what typically doesn’t get reported on in mainstream media is all the kind, generous and wonderful things that are always happening. If we look beyond what is being reported with COVID-19, the sensationalized crime, violence, intolerance and hate, we find people doing good deeds through service and deliberate acts of kindness, love and compassion. Especially meow! Everywhere I look, I see people reaching out and looking for ways to be helpful. I personally know people who are sewing literally thousands of masks and making face shields for “front liners.” In my neighborhood, people announce store runs in hopes of minimizing the spread of the virus. I saw a video where friends and family organized a happy birthday “drive by” for someone who was going to otherwise celebrate her birthday alone. There must have been around a hundred cars! When we pay attention to uplifting things, we feel uplifted. Unfortunately, when we pay attention to depressing things, we feel depressed. If we continuously read about toilet paper scarcity, we get scared and panic shop. If we repeatedly pay attention to the COVID-19 death toll, the tension that is generated in the body can actually compromise the immune system. And if you continue to look for ways in which the “other” political party is to blame for this whole mess we’re in, you will certainly find it. In doing so, you will create more tension and divisiveness reducing our ability to work together for the betterment of all. If you look for people to blame, you will find them! How does this help? Of course, there are differences of opinions on what we should be doing collectively to stop the spread of the virus, protect the integrity small businesses and our overall well-being. Sometimes what is asked of us contrasts with what we believe needs to happen. Nevertheless, if we can pay attention to what we can do as opposed to what we can’t, it stimulates gratitude and creativity. In this way we can become helpful. People saw that healthcare providers were running low on masks – they sewed masks. People recognized that those with comorbidity were safer at home and organized delivery services. People recognized that someone was going to have a birthday home alone and created something very special by paying attention to what they could do. Small-scale, yet profound. These intentional acts of kindness make a huge difference and they all add up. Each one adds the kindness and love in the world. Paraphrasing Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the ocean is nothing more than a collection of tiny drops of water. If we are paying attention to what we can’t do, can’t get or can’t have, our time while physically distancing is certainly going to be made worse. We can indeed change our focus of awareness on what we can do; on what we do have. In doing so we reduce our suffering and the suffering around us.
There is goodness happening everywhere! Seek the goodness. Be the goodness. Increase the goodness in this glorious world. We only have this one life, and, we only really have today. Each day do the best you can to look for the peace, love and kindness that surrounds us. Each day do the best you can to let go of the negativity and literally be the peace, love and kindness. May we all feel safe, accepted care-for and loved. I love each one of you and there isn’t anything you can do about it. How can I help? Dan Contribute to the Turning Leaf Foundation. If you would like to help bring Mindfulness to the less fortunate and to help pay for current services, your generosity will be deeply appreciated. www.turningleaffoundation.com