What We Can Learn While Waiting

The past few months have felt like an eternity. If you’re anything like me, everything has felt stagnant and stuck. Just plain “blah.” Many people are masked (right now, quite literally) with fear of an unknown future and the days seem even longer than they did before. Much of life is just…waiting. 

Whether you are waiting for an end to this global pandemic, trudging through the trenches of unemployment, or battling anxiety, we all have moments we want to wish away.  Stuck in the middle is, well, sticky. 

But I believe in a higher power that loves us and truly cares for our wellbeing. These are learning moments and growth opportunities that (hopefully!) connect our souls upward and outward. 

Here are three principles we can reflect on and incorporate while we wait: 

A Grateful Mindset

Often during the waiting period, we get caught up in our thoughts…thoughts that are often toxic and wearing. What ifs and why nots. Learning to change our mindset to one of gratitude will help us not only survive, but thrive during the middle of our journey. 

Science has shown that our brains are literally altered when we make choices out of gratitude. Dopamine and serotonin are released, meaning gratitude is a mood changer! Simple ways to experience this: Start a gratitude journal. Write a thank you letter to someone. Just thinking—even better, saying—a simple “thanks” will do wonders. 

“With gratitude, people acknowledge the goodness in their lives. In the process, people usually recognize that the source of that goodness lies at least partially outside themselves. As a result, gratitude also helps people connect to something larger than themselves as individuals—whether to other people, nature, or a higher power”(Harvard Health Publishing).

Service Brings Joy

We all seek connection. Our souls long to socialize and serve. Although it seems much easier to sit at home alone at our own pity parties, what our spirits truly desire is to get out. Think of someone else—and I bet they are wading through a challenge too. 

That neighbor you wave to sometimes? She just learned her friend was in a car accident. Your employee, who hides all his emotions behind a bright smile, is silently fighting depression. Your roommate hopes for love but worries it won’t happen because the years keep passing by. 

Make their problems your problems. Yes, each of us has our personal battles to fight—but we don’t have to face them alone. The truth to getting “unstuck” is to reach out. Helping others will turn our thoughts and our actions outward. This is where true joy is found. 

How to See Progression

So often when we focus our sights on the next stage of life or solely look to a better moment in time, we forget that the “now” is just as important. It’s easy to feel like every time we take one step forward, we fall two steps back. 

But, over time, as we choose to create a grateful mindset and reach out to others amidst our own struggles, we will see progress. Author Emily Freeman shared an insightful analogy: “Pretend you are on a hike. You are spending so much time looking at the peak, at where you want to be, that you can’t see how far you have come. Turn around every so often and look back at the pickup truck where you left it in the parking lot.” 

I like to look forward to that bright future ahead; and that’s not a bad quality! But sometimes, it takes looking back to where you started to really determine your progression. It’s easy to feel stagnant in our trials. Let’s work on noticing the small changes. Take a second and look back.

You’ve got this.