I find this coming period of holiday and year end a chance to reflect on the 12 months that has just passed. Many people I’ve talked to over these weeks have told me what a difficult time 2020 has been. The pandemic, of course, has dominated the headlines and brought many new challenges to us individually, in our relationships and families. Ill health, death, separation from family and friends, loss of work and income, restrictions on freedom many of us take for granted have touched most of us across the world. The stress and fear has been obvious, wide and seeming without end.
What I’ve found, though, is that how I cope with it is in large part determined by my perspective and outlook. This is true when I look at world affairs or when I examine my own life, relationship with my partner and with my children.
I wrote in Assume the Positive about the two choices of Positivity or about Negativity and how these outlooks influence the quality of relationship. In fact I think the influence is much broader than only our relationships but is about the quality of life and resilience.
I’ve heard a few people stating that this year was a ‘bad year’. While I agree there have been many things to contend with I would have preferred not to have to deal with, I also cannot see life in such clearcut and absolute terms. I don’t like the classification into ‘good and bad’ as such because of its very static nature and the path of separation it leads towards. But staying with this language. There have also been good things amongst the bad. It is not 100% gloom and doom. There is always something to find to be grateful and to appreciate.
One thing I want to make clear is that I am in no way advocating that we should ignore the unpleasant, challenging and problematic stuff of life and love. No way. It is there, it is to be dealt with and accepted as part of our experience of life. My relationship is not all rainbows and butterflies, crisp white sheets and endless hours enjoying the many pleasures of being together. Of course not! We have disagreements, we have periods of disconnection, we struggle to find the right balance between self, relationship and family, we have periods when things do not go as we wish or plan and we have the same challenges during pandemic as other people.
But if that is ALL I see then my life becomes a dark, heavy and unpleasant experience. Not only that, rising to the challenges of creating a life together becomes more of an effort and more constricted. I lose creativity and passion and respond more from fear than from love. To top it off – I am really not someone you would want to build a life with!
I want to see life as richer than that and respond with care, energy, confidence and imagination. I want to hold life and my relationship as something overall beautiful, bright, joyful and precious – within which there are sometimes dark spots and challenges to deal with.
I want to hold the ‘bad’ within a container that is ‘good’ – not the other way round. It is not important for me if this is ‘true’ – only that perceiving my life this way is more enjoyable than perceiving life as fundamentally ugly with only a few small moments of respite.
How? To often reflect what I am grateful for in my life, in the world and in my loved ones.
This year has had challenges. Yet a few things I can mention that I am grateful for:
- More time with my closest family and with friends (yes, online, but more)
- The motivation to bring forward plans to make available some of my work online
- Money flowing in a way that has allowed us to eat, meet our commitments and still contribute a little to others
- Attention on our fitness and health
- Making our home both functional and warm and friendly
- Rediscovering my enjoyment of writing.
What about you?
What have been your bright spots during this year?