Be the hero in your own story

April 7, 2020… the U.S. is approaching the expected peak of the coronavirus impact. Many states have closed schools, ordered shelter at home, and closing of non-essential businesses. Many Americans are out of work. From a distance, it looks like the script of an apocalyptic novel. No doubt, these are tough times.

Tough times are when heroes emerge. Time for you to step up as the hero in your own story. I’m not talking Superman, or Spiderman, or even James Bond. I’m talking about everyday acts of courage and compassion. Looking within to find gratitude for what we have, not whining about what we don’t. Taking a moment to notice the beauty in life, and the opportunities we have right now. Turning away from despair and second-guessing… the “I should have done this…”

This isn’t science fiction. It’s science fact. We are where we are. All we can do is choose how we move forward, what we do with the time and resources available to us. We still have many choices. Our attitudes and focus affect our mental and physical health. You have a choice right now. What will you do today? Watch endless news coverage of the coronavirus? Or do something constructive?

Many people are dying. This isn’t the first time, and it won’t be the last. The world will get through this. While the majority of people living now were not alive during the Spanish Flu of 1918, or the Great Depression of 1929-1933, and certainly no one is still alive from the Black Plague of the middle ages, I have a friend who survived 911 in New York City. To survive something like that, I imagine gives you a different perspective, a lot of grit, and resilience.

This is a historic event–no doubt about that. Stories will emerge of courage and despair, triumph and suffering. If a movie were to be made of your life, what character would you play? The hero? The victim? The villain? The father or mother who overcomes insurmountable odds to keep their family healthy and fed? Who checks on neighbors to ensure no one is left behind?

You have a choice. Many of us have extra unscheduled time on our hands. What are you going to do with it? Is the glass half-full or half-empty?

This is a great time to invest in yourself. Learn something new. Take a little time each day to do something that brings you joy. Play a board game with your family. Connect with others. Learn a new skill. We may be social-distancing, but if you have an internet connection, you’ve got online learning resources.

Want to learn a new language? There are many free online learning resources. Duolingo is my favorite. I recommend the web-browser version over the mobile app–the ads are less intrusive. Do you love to read? Libraries may be closed, but Amazon offers free trials of Kindle Unlimited, which give you free access to thousands of ebooks.

Are there other hobbies you wanted to try? Write a book? Learn to sew or knit?  Draw or paint? Rear butterflies? Summer is coming, and there’s an opportunity for you to observe the magical moments of transformation: caterpillar into chrysalis, and adult butterfly emerging from its chrysalis to expand its wings and take its first flight.

Self-directed hobbies are one of my favorite things. You learn how to learn, how to design and improve your designs. Start with something you’re interested in. Check out books and videos–there’s a lot available online. Start with small projects… easier to complete quickly and learn from your mistakes.

These days are full of stress for most people. You can give into stress and despair, or you can seek inner strength, and look for opportunities for growth and moments of joy. Your focus will determine your attitude, and that can affect your outcome.

I encourage you to set positive goals. To quote Kung Fu Panda, “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift. That is why it is called the present.” Today, right now, is the time to work towards positive goals. Everyone, rich or poor, has the same number of minutes in a day. How are you spending your minutes?

If you are reading this post, you are one of the richest people in the world. You have access to the internet. I encourage you to set a daily goal in each of the following areas: physical, mental, social, spiritual.

Build a framework for healthy habits. Set time aside for some exercise each day to nourish your physical body. It needs it. Don’t have gym equipment? Go for a walk, or do some yoga, pilates, or strength training using your body’s own weight. Nourish your body with healthy foods. Try to eliminate sugar and junk foods which also destroy healthy gut bacteria. This will help strengthen your immune system.

Challenge yourself mentally. Learn something new–align it with your personal interests. But pick a goal, then list 5 simple steps you can take to work towards that goal. Start anywhere. The trick is simply to start. Set a timer for 15 minutes. You can do anything for 15 minutes, whether you feel like it or not. Check out Mel Robbin’s 5 second rule for inspiration. Action precedes feeling. Do not wait until you feel like doing something–you’ll never start! Just start. Begin anywhere.

Connect with someone socially. In these days of social distancing, you may not be able to do this in person. But if you’re reading this post, you can probably pick up a phone, or do a FaceTime or Skype chat. Reach out to family and friends. Send a text or an email. Let them know you’re thinking of them.

Nourish your spiritual side. If you don’t believe in God, these times may be especially tough for you. But you still have a spirit, a character, a self-image of who you are or who you want to be. How do you want to be remembered? As a joyful, compassionate person who inspired others? Perhaps reflection and meditation will help you discover inner strengths and talents you can share with others. Reflect with gratitude on your blessings. What do you have to be grateful for? Who do you want to encourage who is less fortunate than you?

If, like me, you do believe in God, please take time to pray for this world, your family, and your friends. Pray for guidance for our world leaders who are doing their best to lead us through this crisis. Pray for those who have lost their jobs, and are struggling to feed their families. Ask for guidance in how you can be a blessing to others. No matter who you are, there is probably someone in the world who is less fortunate than you.

This is a great time for self-reflection and self-discovery. What are your greatest strengths? How can you share those to help others? What are your greatest weaknesses? What can you do to improve on them?

Take this opportunity to discover your own inner hero. Be the hero in your own story. The world doesn’t need just one hero. It needs a world of heroes. It needs all of us to bring our best selves to this crisis. It needs you.

Blessings to you and your family. Stay safe.


Marsha Tufft

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