Enlivening Ourselves

“What can I learn from this difficult time?” 

The following is an update to an earlier column written in response to a reader’s question regarding coping with hard times.  I thought it could be useful to all of us as a way of thinking about and adjusting to hard times related to COVID-19.

When going through hard times, try to see what you can gain from the experience. The natural tendency during these times is to focus on what we have lost. Hard times will always come and go. I try to fight back by focusing on what I can gain, rather than sit back and allow sadness and despondency to leave me feeling helpless.

Helpful questions to ask ourselves during this pandemic are: “What can I learn from this difficult time?”  “How can I use it to grow?”  “How can I use these experiences to become more skilled at living?”

Pain and suffering have another side. They carry the gift of wisdom and compassion, expanding our vision and deepening our sense of connection with humanity. Suffering can illuminate our character and carve upon our souls in unique ways.

I am in awe of joyful survivors of painful life experiences; those who retain and refine their humor, look with wonder at everyday life, and feel anothers pain as if it were their own. They are truly skilled in the art of life.

The early Egyptians spoke of an afterlife where the weight of one’s heart was the most important measure at the end of life.  For them, the sought-after accomplishment was to enter the afterlife with a heart as light as a feather.

Those who can accomplish this are the true masters of the art of living. Viewing your current difficulties from this perspective will hopefully lend meaning and purpose to these hard times, leaving you feeling lighter and more empowered in managing your life.

 Check out Dr. Norquist’s new blog  GrowingThroughParenting.com

(Dr. Sallie Norquist is a licensed psychologist (NJ #2371) in private practice and is director of Chaitanya Counseling Services, a center for upliftment and enlivenment, in Hoboken.) Dr. Norquist and the staff of Chaitanya invite you to write them at Chaitanya Counseling Services, 51 Newark St., Suite 202, Hoboken, NJ  07030 or www.chaitanyacounseling.com or by e-mail at drnorquist@chaitanyacounseling.com. Questions can address various topics, including relationships, life’s stresses, difficulties, mysteries and dilemmas, as well as questions related to managing stress or alternative ways of understanding health-related concerns. Ó 2020 Chaitanya Counseling Services