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Think about what’s going right

I received a “gratitude journal” for Christmas. Two, in fact. Having them visible on a daily basis inspires me to contemplate what’s going well in my life, even more than I usually do.

I’m optimistic by nature, so being grateful is not foreign to me. But I am choosing to dig deeper.

These are disturbing and unsettled times. But some unexpectedly good things are in play. Think about it — without a pandemic many families would not be exploring and embracing the concept of working from home and the potential it provides for more family time.

These same families are experiencing fewer transportation hassles and more dinners together. One family I know had lived in their neighborhood for seven years and never met the people next door. Now they have a weekly game night, share child care responsibilities and trade information about COVID testing and vaccination sites.

Families, as well as people who live along, are reading more books — book sales are reportedly up 17%. A recent New York Times article on resilience reported one young man’s reading interests skyrocketed after being furloughed from his job. He was observed with a book in hand “practicing vocabulary words” while in line for coronavirus testing.

But wait, there’s more. In these challenging times, small businesses need to creatively re-think their outreach to customers. And many have profited from the innovative approaches. One family-owned ice cream shop turned itself into an ice cream sandwich delivery service using their great grandmother’s sugar cookie recipe.

An out-of-work mechanic put his skills to work for AAA and relishes the opportunity to interact with people having roadside emergencies.

A repair person whose client roster was disappearing looked at the demographic of older adults experiencing at-home injury falls and started specializing in bathroom grab-bar installation. Imprinted on the N95 mask he wears on all house his calls are the words, “Don’t fall for me”

The role of telemedicine is seeing new dimensions, and access to care has improved. Resilient people everywhere are re-thinking their health needs and becoming more attentive to disease self-management. One woman set up a telephone tree she refers to as “the organ recital” to prompt communication about ailments. A 79-year-old neighbor who lives alone called her to say, “I feel sort of weak and dizzy today.” The woman on the other end of the line asks, “Did you take your blood pressure? Take it a couple times. If it’s lower than 90/60 you need to call the nurse referral line. I’ll get you that number and stay on the line while you do that blood pressure cuff again.”

Anxiety, frustration, unease and even trauma are everywhere, but people of all ages, shapes, sizes and pontifical inclinations are demonstrating resilience.

I particularly appreciate the ideas put forth by Columbia University Teacher’s College professor George A. Bananno, an expert on human resilience. His believes there are three components to staying resilient.

“First, distill exactly what is causing the distress and come up with possible solutions.” Try one of the solutions you identify. Remain flexible if that one doesn’t work, you have others. His ideas are really about problem-solving in tough times. Make that any time.

Sharon Johnson is a retired health educator. Reach her at sharjohn99@mail.com.