Anyone who has ever watched the popular sitcom Friends knows that ‘How You Doin?’ is Joey’s famous pick up line which usually goes along with a cheeky smirk and a raised eyebrow…whenever he said it, the studio audience would laugh and so would we watching from home.
In real life its a simple enough query, often uttered without waiting for a real response, but it made me pause and think, just how much thought do we really give to that question?
How are you doing? How are we doing? More importantly How am I doing?
Just when it seems as if the world might be getting back to normal we are hearing about the different variants of the Covid-19 virus, so many of us are grieving the loss of family and friends due to this horrible affliction, many people are still out of work and then of course there is the great vaccine debate – to vax or not to vax – with both sides providing some pretty convincing arguments.
In this time of unprecedented uncertainty and fear, these are important and necessary questions to ask on a regular basis. How am I really doing? Am I living in fear and negativity? (and I mean lets face it you only have to watch the news and its all right there). How am I using this time, am I using it as an opportunity to learn and to grow or am I giving in to said fear and negativity? I ask myself these questions frequently and I don’t always get the same answer, every day is different – sometimes every hour is different.
I found the above diagram online last year and asked permission to use it in this post because I think that it captures everything we need to consider with respect to self evaluation, not only during this period but during any challenging time. When I look at it I am prompted to ask myself the question ‘Who do I want to be during this difficult chapter? What example do I want to set for my girls?’
We can use the diagram to look back at 2020 and evaluate – did we fall into the hoarding category? (ok most of us had a couple extra packs of toilet paper hidden in that cupboard under the sink if we are going to be honest). How did we respond to the lock down? I know I was truly surprised when I started feeling claustrophobic during the period when we only had a small window of 6am to 12 noon in which we were allowed to leave home and only for very specific reasons. I learned something about myself during that time because I have always considered myself a home body, I love being home and just relaxing, reading or spending time with my family (ok for the purposes of full disclosure there are times when I love binge watching UK crime shows instead of living in the moment and enjoying all of the above but I am only human).
I learned that the idea of not being allowed to go out, even though I probably would have been home if given the choice during normal times, REALLY bothered me. I started spending more time outside in the garden or on the patio. At first I didn’t realize what was happening but when I started to really think about where these feelings of anxiety were coming from I realized it was from the Government imposed lock down. There were times, for me, when being cooped up inside felt distinctly oppressive.
I learned, and continue to learn, many things during this pandemic period. I have realized just how many people, everyday things and everyday experiences that I took for granted. I have learned how much I love spending time with my husband and kids with nothing to do and no place to go. I have learned to let go of what I cannot control, I have learned that life is messy and more often than not will not go according to plan (and sometimes that can be a good thing). I have learned that if you don’t make your bed every single day it will not burst into flame (my husband has always known this).
I have learned that complaining does not change your circumstances in fact studies show that it increases your level of cortisol, also known as the stress hormone which in turn detracts from your overall health. I have found that living with an attitude of gratitude brings me joy which in turn attracts even more opportunities for me to be grateful. Most importantly I have re-embraced my mindfulness and meditation practices out of a necessity to deal with the feelings of anxiety and restore a feeling of peace. This strengthened practice, I am sure, will continue to serve me for the rest of my life in any situation that I encounter.
I think for me, as difficult and scary as the past year and a half has been, the amazing thing is that it has brought me back to basics, slowed down life to make space for the rediscovery of the things that are truly important and made me realize just how many things are most definitely not!
What has your pandemic experience been like and more importantly ‘How You Doin?’