The Five Good Things Challenge

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been surviving a very difficult year by clinging to the good things amid a lot of bad things. I also regularly (daily or hourly) remind myself that this hardship (whatever it may be at the time) will end. Since this has been a rather helpful practice for me, I’d like to encourage you to give it a try. Better yet, make it a practice.

To get you started, I’ve made a few lists below of the “Five Good Things” about five things I really don’t like.

Five Good Things about Wearing a Face Mask

  1. I don’t have to worry about any food that might be stuck in my teeth after a meal.
  2. I don’t have to worry about bad breath, especially after coffee or lunch at work.
  3. I’ve learned to notice and “read” people’s eyes in conversation. Eyes are so expressive and fun to watch.
  4. I haven’t had a common cold or any other virus in almost two years.
  5. Masking has lessened my risk of getting the corona virus and possibly passing it to others.

Five Good Things about Social Distancing

  1. It’s okay if I forget to put on deodorant before leaving the house.
  2. As someone who is uncomfortable with close-talkers and hugs with acquaintances, this pandemic precaution has been a nice reprieve. AND it means that I don’t have to feel guilty when I need or want more personal space.
  3. The six feet of space is so refreshing in usually-crowded places like the grocery store check-out line, elevators, and popular stores at the mall.
  4. Missing hugs from my friends and family, I make my husband give me extra-long hugs every day. He’s a good hugger. It does the trick.
  5. Distancing has lessened my risk of getting the corona virus and possibly passing it to others.

Five Good Things that came out of the Pandemic

  1. I got married in late February of 2020, shortly before the world shut down. Our newlywed year was more like a hibernation. This forced togetherness accelerated a lot of learning in our relationship. We’ve learned how to communicate our needs in stressful circumstances, how to create fun with so many unexpected hours stuck at home, and how to practically support and encourage one another when we are struggling to cope.
  2. The pandemic forced a lot of people to reevaluate their lives and make positive changes they may otherwise not have made. For example, my cousin and her husband decided they wanted 1) a lot less work stress, 2) to live near the water, and 3) to live near family. So, in faith, they resigned from their jobs, moved across the country, and much to my delight, now live 15 miles from me! My cousin is more like a sister I never fight with, so I’m overjoyed they are so close.
  3. I’ve had a love-hate relationship with technology and social media for years, resisting many forms of both because they seemed more of a bother than they were worth. But since I’ve been stuck in Florida for over a year and almost all my family and friends live out of state, technology and social media are the tools that have kept me well-connected to the people I love.
  4. The pandemic lifestyle has exposed so many things that I took for granted and I will likely never take them for granted again: safe hugs and handshakes; casual, spontaneous hang-outs with friends; the freedom to travel when I want to; the ability to have family with you in the hospital and at critical doctor’s appointments; making appointments with mental and logistical ease; the simple enjoyment of eating in a restaurant with good ambiance, good music, good service, and good food that I did not have to make myself!
  5. The constraints of the pandemic have exposed strengths and weakness that probably would have remained hidden expect for these extreme circumstances. For example, I’ve discovered I’m very flexible and adaptable to change, even in on-going uncertainty. In terms of weaknesses, I’ve discovered the extent to which my emotional stability relies on my connection to others. Now, everyone needs relationships to be well, and it’s true that I’m a strong extrovert and there’s nothing wrong with that–but I’ve realized that my emotional health is far too reliant on others. Instead of feeling discouraged and ashamed of this exposed weakness, I’m choosing to see it as a new opportunity to grow in health.

That’s it for now, but you get the picture. I hope the Five Good Things challenge might be helpful for you, even if you can only fill in your list to number three for now. Leave spots four and five empty, be patient and expectant, and keep reflecting. More will come to you and your list may even begin to overflow.

Disclaimer: Please don’t think that I believe in ignoring real and big problems and putting on a fake smile, as though simply focusing on the positive can make the negative disappear. I absolutely believe in the power and practice of lament. I believe it is a sign of health to name our challenges and not minimize their impact. But I also know that those practices can easily slip and slide into wallowing and defeatism–at least they can for me. So I lament and I name the things that distress and burden me, but I also try to find hope and cope in the midst of them.


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