GAALS: Girls Athletics And Life Skills℠

10 positive outcomes of the pandemic
I might just win the most annoying mom award and I’m okay with it. Each year, I find strategic times – holidays, special occasions and transitions – to ask my family to answer thought provoking questions like, “What three things would change about yourself?” Even though my questions spark giggles, interesting facial expressions and/or comments like, “here we go again,” I honestly don’t care that I’m annoying. My questions prompt thoughtful and meaningful responses from my family – ones that I believe lead to positive outcomes. This time of year is my favorite because I usually get away with asking my family two questions that require them to look into the future and set goals since there are two occasions – the start of school and the Jewish new year. However, given 2020 has been a dramatically different and difficult year, I switched things up. I decided not to ask about the future, which seems likely to improve, and instead use the opportunity to reflect by asking only one question that required everyone to reframe the negative into a positive.

“What’s one good thing that came out of the pandemic?”

This year, I posed the question at our holiday dinner with close friends and their children. It was truly beautiful to watch everyone actively listen to one another’s heartfelt responses. And after each person’s turn, kids and adults were inspired to share their perspectives and validate other’s feelings. The engaging and meaningful conversation set a pleasant tone for the evening, and hopefully for days to come. Reframing our thinking to look for the good in situations is a vital skill. In trivial or everyday situations where things don’t work out as we would have liked, it’s beneficial to train yourself to see the positive BEFORE the negative, or at least to look at things as a whole – the good and the bad. (By no means am I saying we should avoid seeing and/or feeling bad emotions. It’s imperative to our mental well-being that we allow ourselves to experience all feelings. And of course there are plenty of times where it’s appropriate to first focus on the negative, like the pandemic and tragedies.) Putting things in perspective can prevent us from dwelling too long or being too hard on ourselves. It helps us emotionally and mentally, while boosting our self-esteem and confidence (which leads to all sorts of positive things). Seeing the positive can lead to a mindset shift that enables us lead happy, enjoyable and productive lives. 

How can you instill a positive outlook and growth mindset?

Try using these tools to practice looking for the good with your family. 

> > Download this FREE pdf – Look for the Good Activity Book, for children ages 4 to 8, written by my dear friend and GAALS leader, Aimee Fox. I am honored to share it with you and am so proud of her efforts to support the development of children’s emotional well-being.

>> Check out this list of books for kids of all ages that promote positivity, happiness and an overall growth mindset. >> Listen to Jason Mraz’s latest hit, “Look for the Good,” to get in the mood. >> Ask your children what good things resulted from the major life change they experienced starting in mid March. There are so many, starting with us as individuals and a community, to looking at the greater impact it has had on our country, the world and the planet. You might be surprised by how insightful they are.  That night, while I lay in bed, I began thinking more about all of the good things that have come out of the pandemic. There are so many, starting with us as individuals and a community, to looking at the greater impact it has had on our country, the world and the planet. Here are my top 10 positive outcomes of Covid-19. 1. Strengthened relationships with loved ones in the house. If you’re a parent of an eight month old, 8 year old or 18 year old (or anything in between), odds are you spent more time with your child than you ever could have imagined. Whether you saw it as a dream come true or (dare I say), a nightmare, our relationships with our children were reshaped in ways that only happened as a result of the pandemic (especially for those with college or post college kids who never expected them to live under your roof again). Parents were sharing with friends and on social media all of the ways they were engaging with their kids. Fun activities and meaningful conversations both deepened the connections and created fond memories. And perhaps most importantly, social, emotional and mental health finally took the top spot of priorities – where it should have been for far too long. 2. More and better communication with friends and family. While the coronavirus pandemic forced us to spend more time with those we live with, it created distance with everyone else. Thanks to technology, even though we weren’t able to socialize and celebrate face-to-face the way we are accustomed to doing, most of us have been able to stay connected  While it’s obviously not the same as interacting in person – and doesn’t feel the same – there are advantages. Kids that connected with their friends through technology likely strengthened their communication skills – speaking and listening. And hopefully, they also improved their ability to engage in back and forth conversation, an art that has been diminishing over the past decade. Most of us adults and our children are spending more time connecting with friends and loved ones who live far away, and joining video calls with big groups of people. There are so many bonuses of large virtual gatherings: no need to worry about standing alone, or being put in an awkward position with people you don’t know or like, or being tasked with engaging in unwanted dialogue. It’s also a relief that no one needs to be excluded because of the size of the space and/or cost of hosting. The cherry on top is being able to hang out and chat in your pjs versus choosing just the right outfit! It’s not surprising then that people are more in touch with their friends and family than before, according to research. Perhaps it’s because some of us have more time, or because crises often remind us of the importance of family and friends. Regardless of the reason, enhancing communication skills and strengthening relationships are always wins. 3. Increased creativity and problem solving skills.  As the saying goes, Invention is the mother of necessity.” Being stuck at home with fewer options of things to do forced us and our children to come up with creative ways to spend our free time, to rethink how to integrate physical activity, to juggle work and homeschooling, and just how to manage daily life. Some families spent time doing things they never dreamed of, like watching live cams of animals or forests around the world, taking virtual tours of foreign cities and visiting museums. Others came up with creative (and sometimes elaborate) ways to celebrate birthdays and other occasions. But even if your family kept it simple and played games together, cooked meals, baked treats, did puzzles and engaged in art and science projects, all of us exercised their creativity, strategic thinking and problem solving muscles. Not only will these skills and mindset be beneficial moving forward, they are also great tools to relieve stress. Thinking outside the box does not come naturally to some. And like most things, the more you do it, the easier it becomes. 4. Boosted patience, independence, and resilience. When life changes dramatically and we have zero control, it’s easy to lose our ability to function in the same manner we had previously. But after getting the sense that the changes might be something we need to figure out how to live with, most of us realized that we needed to take a moment and reset. It requires a fair amount of patience to live with and manage instability. And of course when we are cooped up with the same people and few or no outlets, so many stepped up and did our best to remain patient. Then when reality set in, we realized the importance of fostering independence – our own and that of everyone in our family – in order to get through to the other side. We leaned on one another to get through difficult days of homeschooling while juggling everything else. And when the uncertainty continued, we found ways to reinvent ourselves in order to get through. That takes strength and resilience. 5. Balancing life by re-evaluating things and shifting priorities. Whether it’s changing careers, moving to another community, eliminating activities to focus on family, sometimes we need to be pushed to make lifestyle changes. That’s why people are more open to changing habits during upheaval, according to research. As soon as the pandemic hit, our daily routines changed, forcing us to stop and reflect on what really matters. We quickly recognized how precious life is and were grateful for all that we had. While it was difficult to juggle work, homelife and homeschooling because it required us to shift our priorities, and we did what we could to make it happen. Plus, the anxiety and stress of these dramatic daily changes hopefully forced us to realize the importance of slowing down and relaxing, in order to find balance. Hopefully, having more time on our hands (although likely less time to ourselves) and perhaps even a few more dollars in our pockets (as a result of working from home and/or having fewer activities), aided us in the process. 6. Willingness to make sacrifices. During the pandemic, lots of families sacrificed space and privacy by opening their homes to elderly parents, sick relatives, and/or those who live in urban cities. Some people even hunkered down with ex spouses to mitigate children’s chances of infection by going back and forth to their parents homes. Some working parents volunteered for pay cuts, or to be furloughed, whether to help others or for personal reasons, such as being able to help their children with homeschooling. Everywhere we turn we have witnessed people making sacrifices, big and small, in order to help others. Frontline workers and ordinary people were even willing to sacrifice their own lives. Hopefully, this experience will prompt societies to realize that it’s not necessary to wait for a crisis to make sacrifices in order to help others. 7. Recognizing and saluting essential workers. While not all of us necessarily take for granted the essential workers in our lives, odds are most of us never spent as much time thinking about them until the pandemic hit. Supermarket cashiers, shelf-stackers and delivery drivers are not generally thought of as heroes. Even doctors and healthcare workers often aren’t seen with a halo over their heads. The pandemic has highlighted our dependence on the essential roles of so many people in our lives. The thing is that once our perspective changes snd we start to see people in. Different light, respecting, valuing  and appreciating them, and believing they are our equals, let’s hope there’s no turning back. 8. More and better sleep. Not having to carve out time to commute to school or work has enabled many of us to set our alarm clocks a little later. Data from Fitbit users in six US cities shows that people are getting/got an average of 17 minutes more sleep every night than they did before the pandemic. Plus, it says it’s better sleep! 9. Uniting with others through shared hardship and experiences. The impact of the pandemic on the world has been tragic. Yet in many ways it seems to be bringing people and communities together. Whether it’s governments, businesses, or everyday people working with others -even strangers – it’s beautiful (and rare) to watch people relate to others in deep and meaningful ways. We need this now more than ever given how divided our country has felt for so long – by politics, race, class and gender. If people can continue to show empathy, respect and kindness toward others, I strongly believe it will be contagious and lead to a unification that will enable us to make positive change throughout the world. 10. Reduced carbon emissions. According to the International Energy Agency, the pandemic caused the biggest shock to the global energy system in over 70 years. The patterns of energy demand around the world changed significantly. Many international borders were closed and populations were confined to their homes, reducing transport and changing consumption.The result, carbon emissions are set to decrease by 8 percent in 2020. China, which has the world’s biggest carbon footprint, reduced emissions by a quarter, leading to cleaner air in locations across the world.

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