Explore the Good
There’s no sugar coating how challenging this year has been. I have been working hard on something we’ve been talking a lot about at The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation – “exploring the good”. I find myself making lists, sometimes at random moments in the day when I’m feeling a little lost… sometimes very intentionally just before bed when my mind won’t settle.
I’d like to share the idea with you in hopes that it will create some comfort during difficult times like these.
This is a little different from a gratitude list (which is scientifically proven to benefit your mental health). It is more of a challenge to yourself to take any negative emotions or thoughts and reframe them into something else. Then, take action. There is a LOT of mental health boosting going on in this little exercise.
I’ll share a portion of my personal list with you as an example. I have been building it up over the last several month. Honestly, at the beginning of the pandemic it didn’t exist. I wasn’t able to see past the first column for weeks. It took some time to be able to get to a place where I could begin the reframing. But, once I started I felt better… and then, I took action.
|Negative Thoughts or Emotions||Reframe||Action|
|Businesses are closed. I can’t go anywhere.||I’ve had more time to get creative with what I have at home (cooking, crafts, gardening, etc.)||Help support businesses by purchasing take out/delivery meals or gift cards that can be used when they are open again or as gifts for the holidays.|
|Schools are remote/online. My kids aren’t learning. I can’t teach them.||I’ve had almost 8 uninterrupted months to form a closer bond with my child. The lessons she’s been learning will help her for the rest of her life.||Reach out to educators and tell them how much you appreciate them. They are struggling to keep kids engaged, learning and connected. They can use all the support they can get. Focus less on academics and more on the life lessons being presented on a daily basis. Attend to you and your child’s mental health.|
|I’m not able to see loved ones.||I have found new ways to connect. I have been reminded of how precious life is and am more open in expressing my love and appreciation for others.||Write a handwritten letter to those you love. Put into words all the things you appreciate about them. Mail it to them. Better yet, call them and read it to them. Send a care package if you’re able.|
|I’m scared.||It’s ok to be scared. I’m also resilient.||Allow yourself to feel the feelings. They are real and they should not be pushed aside. Find someone to talk to who can help – a friend, a family member or a mental health professional.|
|I am not able to do the things I normally like to do.||I’ve been able to try new things. I’ve learned to fish and have spent a lot more time outdoors. I’ve also been able to check things off my ‘to do’ list that have been sitting around for far too long.||Try something new. Maybe it’s a craft or reading a book that’s been sitting on your shelf for awhile. Get outside. Share ideas with others.|
|People are suffering. I don’t feel like I can help.||There are opportunities for us all to help those who are suffering. I have seen incredible generosity and kindness.||Find ways to support those who are suffering. Collect food for a food pantry nearby. Start a coat drive. Connect people with free or no-cost mental health supports.|
|Things aren’t going to get better. This is never going to end.||I know they will get better and this too shall pass. Patience is important and giving myself and others grace during such a difficult time is going to test who we are as individuals and as a society.||When you hear this from others, reassure them that things are going to get better. Let them know we’re all in this together.|
This list is just an example. Mine is actually much longer and sometimes the 'Reframe' box stays empty for quite some time.
As we edge closer to the election here in the United States, tensions are high. No matter who emerges victorious, I urge everyone to think about reframing any negative thoughts into something positive. And then, take positive action.
Keep in mind, we come from different backgrounds, have experienced very different things in our lives and look at life through various lenses. We don’t have to agree on everything, but it costs us nothing to be kind. Perhaps reach out to someone you disagree with and reassure them that you are still friends? Practice using the phrase, “I hadn’t thought about it like that” during a heated conversation.
If you’re looking for a little bit of inspiration, I encourage you to spend some time exploring the kindness resources on our website. It always helps me reframe things when I’m having a hard time.
Explore the good. You’ll feel better. I promise.
My great grandma passed away last month after a 6 month battle with brain, kidney and lung cancer. The months leading up to her passing were so hard for her, myself and my family and we struggled when she passed away too. Your list really helped me try to think about everything and try to look at things as positively as possible. I shared it with everyone in my family too so hopefully taking the time to adjust our focus can help us all feel a little more at peace. Thank you for such a powerful inspiration!