By Jamie Etheridge
Yesterday a friend posted this really cool idea on Facebook. Set up a wish jar with a stack of Post-it notes and a pen in your house. Each time someone in your family wishes they could go shopping at the mall, meet up with friends for a night out, go to a restaurant and have a meal, take a short holiday abroad or anything else currently made impossibly by the global pandemic, write the idea on a note and drop it into the wish jar.
The jar will likely fill up fast, since we all think daily about the things we wish we could do. My favorite wish, for instance, is to go for an early walk in Al-Shaheed Park and then have breakfast with my family at our favorite breakfast cafe. Keep the jar and when this is all over, go through it and do all the activities you and your family wished for during the coronavirus pandemic.
Take your kids to the playground, learn to scuba dive or get a manicure. Whatever you wished for, make it happen. Then when you are making your dream come true – even if it’s something as simple as shopping in The Avenues – pull out that yellow Post-it note. Pause for a moment and remember when this simple activity hadn’t been possible and be grateful.
Gratitude is one of the best mindsets to have when facing difficult circumstances. Remembering in times of hardship and uncertainty how blessed and lucky we are is a major boon for our mental state and can help ease depression and anxiety and also support a calm and more thoughtful approach. In the current state of global pandemic, we could all use a bit more calm, and so it’s good to be grateful.
Gratitude can also help manage the present. Since this crisis began in late February in Kuwait, I have heard more and more people speaking about the plans they have and what they will do when it’s over. As the wish jar suggests, looking forward to the future can be a valuable tool for managing the present. But it is also important to find ways to be present, in the present, and still feel ok.
Imagine you are only used to cooking with onions and suddenly there are no onions available in the market. Will you stop cooking altogether? Or adapt to cook what you never before believed was possible to cook without onions? Maybe you will spend all your time lamenting the loss of onions and dream of the sweet sting of onion juice, or how full-bodied and rich onions made your soup or curry.
But what if, instead of focusing on the absence of a thing, we focused on what is present? Perhaps exploring new ways to cook that don’t involve onions? New ways of living that don’t require frequent shopping trips or flights abroad or regular dinners in restaurants in order to live full and meaningful lives?
We can wish for a future of greater freedom and opportunities while also enjoying a present with more limitations but also more opportunities to explore and be creative within those limitations. Orson Welles is credited with saying that “The enemy of art is the absence of limitations.” We are now in a time of limitations. We can wait for wishes to one day come true or we can work within the limitations before us, creating in the present the world we want.