By Greg Fox
One recent Sunday morning I settled down with coffee and a copy of the “New Orleans Times Picayune/Advocate’s” sports section. The lead was a series of interviews with local sports luminaries answering the question, “What does it mean to be an American?”
Aeneas Williams, New Orleans native, Pro Football Hall of Fame member and a guy who obviously has his priorities straight offered this observation: “In football terms, we call this ‘gut check time.” That’s where we are as a country. Gut check time isn’t the time to quit and divide. Gut check time is when the vast gifts on the team work together as a common team to beat the opponent. That’s the opportunity we have right now.”
Those words spoke to me. As a nation of Americans, we’re fighting an enemy we can’t see while struggling with economic and social issues. And this mirrors the challenges we’re confronting in our personal lives. Unseen social and economic forces are pressing us as individuals to re-engineer for survival.
Most of us are fighting unemployment, financial distress, racism and looming poverty as the “pandemic” marches on. At the very best, all our lives are clouded by a shroud of uncertainty.
We want to feel secure. Uncertainty breeds fear and leaves us stressed, anxious and feeling powerless. We mentally rehearse a series of what-ifs with dark outcomes. But we do not have to continue in this narrow channel, struggling with things seemingly out of control. While the threat seems physical, our approach to it must be mental and emotional strength. We can overcome these conditions through right thought and action.
Act decisively to control the things you can. You have no control of the virus’ spread, the economy or actions by social activists. But you can manage your thoughts and actions.
If you’re unemployed, you can put yourself into searching for work, both in person and online. Get in touch with your friends and contacts. Let them know you’re available for whatever comes up.
If you’re concerned about your health, do your part to stop the spread of the virus. Wear a mask, wash your hands and avoid crowds. Do your part to protect vulnerable older citizens.
If you’re a business owner, pay close attention to government programs that will provide financial help for your business. Don’t procrastinate when it’s time to apply for assistance.
You control your attitude and emotions. Worry and fear take a backseat to your positive efforts to rise above discordant situations. You’ll see that for every unpleasant circumstance, good things happen, too.
And really, just how certain is life? Does anyone have a guaranteed job, good health and harmonious relations always? Who is certain what tomorrow will bring? No one! Do you worry that bad things will happen? Why aren’t good things just as possible?
You’re no fortune teller. You can’t predict the future. And the truth is that all the bad things you worry about, rarely happen. All you can do is let go and accept uncertainty as part of life. When you do, fear subsides.
It all comes down to where you place your attention. Just as Aeneas Williams said, “it’s gut check time.” Time to take inventory of all your talents and abilities, all your “gifts,” and bring them together to defeat uncertainty, doubt and fear.
A calm, patient, positive mind combined with right action is a sure defense.