Road to Nowhere

“I wanted to write a song that presented a resigned, even joyful look at doom.” –David Byrne

Could there *be* anything more Generation X than that quote? (she asked in her best Chandler Bing voice.)

I’ve been home for 42 days. The hustle and bustle of NYC is gone, replaced with birdsong and ambulance wails. There are days I feel positive and hopeful. There are days filled with anxiety and sadness.

“Get out of the way” is the best thing most of us can do to keep the medical professionals and essential workers safe and healthy. There is so much about this pandemic that is out of our control. I feel helpless on many fronts.

I’m sad for my nephew who is a senior in high school. I worry for my friends who are juggling working remotely with home schooling and caring for elderly parents. I’m anxious for our friends who work in hospitals. The serious symptoms of coronavirus scare me, especially “difficulty breathing.”

It’s selfish, I know, but I miss being out in the city. I miss our friends and family. I miss live theater. Will Broadway recover? I worry about our actor friends, who not only lost their show but their side gigs as waiters/bartenders. Will I lose my job too? I’ve only been at my job for 3 months. I understand the desperation to revive the economy, and that staying at home is critical to stop the spread. Nothing about the pandemic is clear or straightforward.

When will it be safe to visit my parents?

I’ve tried to make good use of this stillness by working on myself. Maybe it’ll have a positive ripple effect, the way I’ve been inspired by others. Maybe it’s all for nothing.

Can we beat COVID-19, or are we on a road to nowhere?

Pivoting My Mindset

Chapter 3 of The Pivot Principle, Pivot Your Mindset, is about the aftermath of the car accident. Alyssa takes us through the extent of her injuries and her depression during her long road of recovery. After playing with the hospital’s therapy dogs one afternoon, the pure joy they gave her made her realize it was up to her to reclaim her life in her “new normal.” She and Freddie decided to surround themselves with positive thoughts, words and actions. She credits this approach with being able to walk again in 3 months instead of 8, regaining close to 100% use of her injured eye, and running long distances again after 18 months of recovery.

Alyssa and Freddie certainly aren’t the first to tout the power of positivity. The Mayo Clinic, psychologists and scientists have proven that positive thinking reduces stress, build skills and improves your health. It’s nice to say you want to be more positive, but how do you gain, and keep, a positive mindset? Alyssa and Freddie built a strategy:

  1. Only use positive words when speaking, especially to yourself. For example, instead of saying, “I can’t,” say, “Of course I can!”
  2. Create your dream environment. Build your personal space with podcasts, music, articles and clips that have positive, uplifting messages.
  3. Gratitude. Every day, acknowledge three things you are thankful for.
  4. Visualize your life as if you’ve already achieved your dreams and goals. What does it look like? Use your imagination. What will it take to achieve those goals? Write it out, step by step, and see yourself conquering each one.

Does this seem hokey to you? Make you uncomfortable? As Alyssa said in Chapter 1, to reach new heights, you have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Pivoting your mindset isn’t easy. You don’t just decide to be a positive person and BAM! you’re positive. If you’re like me, you’re undoing a lot of deeply embedded mental habits.

As for their strategy, I’ll say right off the bat that only using positive words when speaking is the hardest, especially when talking to myself. But, I’ve been practicing it for a few months and it makes a difference. I used to apologize for anything and everything – I’m not the only one – and I do it much, much less since I started speaking to myself with kindness.

The biggest shift I made to create my dream environment was to stop working for a news organization. This was incredibly difficult because I loved it there – my team, the work, and the mission: To Inform the World. But, being in an environment of relentless Breaking News took its toll on me last year. I was joyless, disillusioned, depressed. I felt myself slipping away. Yet the positive talk started to work even then. I was worth leaving News. I was worth waiting for the right opportunity. It took several months but I found it.

I have a gratitude journal. I write in it most mornings. I list three things I’m thankful for. When I started it, one goal was to be a successful enough writer so I could quit my day job. But now, I don’t resent having to have a day job at all. I pivoted my mindset. My day job is the patron of my art. Writing is a pleasure, a hobby. I can write whatever I want, whenever I want. I don’t depend on writing for a living. I’m thankful for my day job because it gives me the freedom to explore who I am as a writer. If someday I actually sell something, it’s a bonus.

Willing to give it a try? Or are you still skeptical? Leave me a comment, or get in touch!