Before October of last year, I would have never considered writing about my personal life in a public space. However, doing so now fits right in with the way this year has gone, as it has been full of experiences I could have never imagined. It has been a complex time and throughout these many months, brave and generous souls have shared their own experiences with me, helping me find my way through new and foreign territory. With the hope I might do the same for someone else, I share the thoughts below.
I have kept a gratitude journal for several years. Most mornings I record the 3 or 4 experiences, people, learnings, objects, etc. for which I feel especially thankful that day. On October 7, 2015, I included several appreciations, which I had written many times before, about family and home.
On October 8, I abruptly discovered none of the things I had included just 24 hours earlier would any longer be part of my life.
The shock of the next several hours was indescribable and was the first experience of a multi-layered journey that I have come to know I share with many people. In the subsequent 10 months, I have spoken with friends and family who have experienced life-altering “disruptions” of one kind or another – the loss of personal health, loss of family member, loss of a job, loss of a love relationship and more. The details for each of us are different, of course, but there are commonalities across our experiences and definitely similarities in the approach of those who seem to “come through it” even better and stronger than they were before.
Digging deeply into all 24 character strengths that we embed in our work at the Academy, not just those that each of us would consider our signature strengths, was central for those of us on a path from the ashes of the former life to something new and positive.
In addition, for me, reaching for joy in as many moments as possible has been essential in my personal journey. Time with family, friends, and colleagues has been the bedrock, but I love music and moving and have made them daily priorities, as much as possible, for the sense of comfort, delight, and well-being they provide. My strategy doesn’t seem exceptional in that everyone I have spoken to has also been very intentional about their own joy-inducing activities.
Below is an artificially tidy view of some of the emotions involved in moving forward and my experience of the journey to this point in terms of what strengths were most important when and what music and movement were helpful. I wish I could say I consistently used my strengths as described below, but of course I fall short many, many times and I am still on the journey.
One of the most surprising pieces for me is that the experience has definitely not been linear and I have rarely experienced just one emotion at a time.
Unfortunately, we all have serious set-backs at some point in our lives. What I know now, more than ever, after this year, is that
when someone shares their experience, other people might learn, we all can grow, and the world becomes a better place for us all.
In that spirit, if you have experienced a significant disruption/setback/crisis how have you used your strengths to come through as a stronger, better version of yourself?
References for Activity/Movement