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  • Writer's pictureJeran Van Alfen, CFP®

Gratitude for the Resilience of the Human Spirit

My grandmother turned 93 years old this last month. As I have listened to her stories over the years, I am always fascinated to think about the events that she has lived through and the changes that she has embraced in her lifetime. She tells us of how fortunate her family was to have ice being delivered to her house when she was a young girl in the 1930’s and now she is living in a time when we have so much convenience right at our fingertips. She retired from the phone company back when it was called “the phone company” and now we can jump on a “Zoom” call to connect with her whole family and sing “Happy Birthday.” She has seen the great wars that defined generations and now we are dealing with our own generational crisis. When I think about what can happen in the scope of a lifetime and the resilience of our human spirit, I am grateful and optimistic of what lies ahead. Here are some thoughts on how this experience will help us move forward with new strength.

Social Isolation has helped us embrace new ways to connect

According to a Fidelity study[1], people who feel socially isolated are 4x more likely to feel stressed or anxious and 15x more likely to feel sad or downhearted. During this time of social distancing we have lost some control over what we are allowed to do, but that hasn’t stopped us from reaching out and connecting. I have noticed that more people who would normally feel uncomfortable with technology and virtual meetings are embracing the tools that we have to interact and get work done. I think this is because psychological studies have shown that the perception of loneliness actually hurts more than being alone. While technology won’t replace human connection completely, we can continue to move forward with an easy way of interacting quickly and efficiently and get some things done without leaving the comforts of our home.

We are reminded that most things are excess

When life is simplified, we are reminded of what items we truly need to live. Going through the experience of seeing what “essential” businesses are, I have been grateful for what we have. I am sure that over the last month of driving less and dining out less, it has had some impact on normal spending habits. During this time, I have been grateful for the food and shelter that we have. As we return to normal, it will be nice to spend money on travel and other non-essentials, but hopefully we can take the time to continue to pause and be grateful for the simple things in life.

Our health and our time continue to be our greatest assets

I know many people have stories of Covid-19 being very close to home. Every day that my family wakes up healthy, I am grateful for our well-being. I know that life hasn’t stopped and we always are busy with so much to do, but I hope that you are taking time to take care of your physical and mental health and that you spend some time connecting with your loved ones.

I have been truly impressed with humans as I have had to venture out into the community for the essentials. It has been beautiful to see people take responsibility for keeping themselves and others safe. I am grateful for all of the people on the front lines like health care workers and grocery store employees and I am grateful that we are all working together to find solutions.

[1] Fidelity Investments Total WellBeing Research online survey, September 2017.

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