In my continuing effort to document what it’s like to go from comfortably employed to suddenly unemployed to launching a business in very short order, Episode 16 will cover the week of November 22. You can read all of my previous Episodes on my website.
Mood: Expectant. For the holiday season and my next steps. I only have one thing on my list for Santa – finalize the investment so my partners and I can get started. We are thisclose.
Accomplishments: Had lunch on Mon with a friend who happens to be in the industry (we meet monthly to compare personal / professional notes). Made two new industry friends at Tue breakfast. Didn’t gain any weight. Yep, a slow week.
What I Learned: Different can be OK (not a new lesson). Thanksgiving used to be my favorite day of the entire year. The excitement came from knowing what was coming. For the first several years of married life, it involved a huge family gathering to watch the Macy’s parade, buffet lunch, watch football, nap, play football in the yard, watch football and eat leftovers. As more kids got married and had their own in-law traditions, the gathering got smaller (and older so playing football was less dynamic). That phase drew to a close so for several years my nuclear family and close friends went to Helen (in the north Georgia mountains) – fighting traffic out of town on Wed afternoon – for a huge buffet at the lodge preceded / followed by hiking, watching football, eating leftovers for dinner and our first-of-the-season viewing of “Christmas Story”. Every year since that phase drew to a close has been different. This year continued the tradition of no tradition but also included an unexpected new dynamic – my first Thanksgiving ever without the unique camaraderie that comes from sharing a holiday at work. The excitement of a four-day weekend was supplanted by … “oh, its Thursday.” Why the long explanation of my Thanksgiving history? I was not a fan of the start of each new phase. I enjoyed the tradition and the day’s anticipation because I knew exactly what to expect. It was fun and comfortable. Each time the tradition was altered, or phased out, my inner Scrooge grumbled. At times, I felt like Tevya in Anatevka. But then I warmed up to the new tradition with its own unique value, experience and participants. Life moves on quickly and often we don’t have a choice in how it does. Change is not easy and often not desirable. Sometimes change is good and other times not so much. Change sometimes is sudden but more often it is evolutionary. Change will happen whether you want it to or not. Different doesn’t necessarily mean bad or negative. During COVID – and this countdown journey – I’ve become more accommodating of change. I learned again last week that my valuation of change always has more to do about my attitude than the actual circumstances.
Anxiety Level (1-10): 7
Three Good Things:
- Food (only had turkey for Thanksgiving lunch – Italian, Jason’s Deli, sports bar, BBQ and Mexican filled out the rest of the week)
- Family and Friends (spread over the four days, some were in-person but most were via text, not because of COVID restrictions but due to other available options, schedule priorities, sickness or physical distance)
- Football (the college rivalry games were great reality TV shows)
Word for the Week: Different
This Week’s Lesson: Gratitude. I read an article, “Matthew McConaughey Named Philanthropist of the Year,” that was obviously timed to synch with Thanksgiving. I’ve seen him act, of course, but I’ve also seen him wax philosophical in interviews as well. He seems to be relatable, a strategic thinker and focused on making things better. He definitely is much more than “Alright, Alright, Alright.” I think his philanthropical approach – do it fast, be hands-on – is a model for how it should be done. But what resonated with me most in this article were his comments on gratitude:
- I get [the] best compliment I’ve ever gotten when I ask them, “What’s your favorite thing about the gratitude circle?” They say: “I’m hearing my peers say ‘thank you’ for things in their lives that I have but I’ve always took for granted.” Yes! Now we’re cooking with gas. I believe that gratitude is a reciprocal process where the more we’re grateful for in life, the more we’ll create to be thankful for.
- We’re teaching these kids to deal and to use gratitude as a constructive coping mechanism when you’re feeling down, lost, depressed, hurt. It can at least help you get back up. There’s great value in that. There’s great value in new friendships and support groups. You’re building strength. You’re building community.
- You want to get cynical and start looking at the negative instead of the positive? See how much that pays you back. We’re not saying this solves the problem, but it does help you keep looking at the things that you do have and that you can build upon and hopefully make compounding assets out of them to create more in your life to be thankful for and to give your life more meaning.
I’ve spoken and written frequently about how important positivity is to mental and physical wellbeing. How a negative attitude, surrounded by negative people, creates negative results. How important establishing a positive dominant narrative (“integrating our life experiences into an internalized, evolving story of ourselves, which gives a sense of unity and purpose to our lives”) is to fostering resilience / psychological flexibility. It is a lot easier to be positive when you’re focused on gratitude and specifically identifying your blessings. Tradition, different (change) and gratitude all had a unique intersection during Thanksgiving last week. Yes, old dogs can indeed learn new tricks.
About Mark Pew
Mark Pew is a passionate educating and agitating thought leader in workers’ compensation and award-winning international speaker, blogger, author and jurisdictional advisor. He has focused on the intersection of chronic pain and appropriate treatment since 2003. He is the driving force and co-founder of The Transitions and just recently launched The RxProfessor consulting practice at https://therxprofessor.com.