Margie & Barbara
Steps 4, 5, and 6 - Sifting Pandemic Activities to Bake a Better Life
Now that you’ve identified your buckets and filled them, it’s time to separate them into different categories: positive, negative, or neutral. In this post, we are going to discuss Steps 4-6, “Get Positive”, “Put it in Neutral!”, and “Holding the Negative in Compassion to Find the Positive” respectively. These are the steps we recommend to get perspective on - and begin to shift your mindset about - what your life was like during the pandemic. It’s all part of the transformative experience of looking at life through a lens of gratitude, positive possibilities, and achieving your heart’s desires.
Once you have recorded enough activities to suit you within each bucket, use the template below (or any other format you prefer) to note one of three qualities for each entry: positive, negative, or neutral. These represent how you felt about each activity.
You can use symbols like (+) for positive, (-) for negative, or (N) for neutral to record how you felt. If anything is fuzzy or unclear - meaning how you feel now or how you felt at that time doesn’t form easily for you - just pause, breathe, and ask yourself, “If I had that experience again, how would I feel?” This may give you a better sense of whether this activity should be marked positive, negative, or neutral.
The next thing to do is to sort all of your entries from your buckets into positive, neutral, or negative categories. You can do this in any way that works for you, but we suggest either: (1) on the computer, using copy and paste from the original lists to make three new lists, or (2) on paper, using a word or short phrase representing each activity. For this, you would have three separate pages: positive, negative, and neutral.
What To Do With These Three Lists?
Beginning with the activities that generated positive feelings, write a phrase or a sentence about each experience, describing what felt positive and what you want to carry forward - what you want more of in your life.
After completing the list of positives, look at all the activities you felt neutral about. Neutral activities may carry seeds of the positive. Consider if there was anything from that activity you may want to carry forward in your life and write a positive phrase or sentence. If the activity held nothing that could contribute positively to the future, you can leave it on the list and move to the next activity.
Now look at the list of all the activities for which you had a negative feeling. Ask yourself, “Are there any elements in a particular activity that, on reflection, I felt positive about?” If so, write a positive phrase or sentence about carrying that feeling or insight forward in your life.
For activities where negative feelings remain, try writing a positive phrase or sentence about what you are going to change next year to address that negative aspect. If the activity held nothing that could contribute positively to the future, you can leave it on the list and move to the next activity.
Please be very gentle with yourself as you pursue this practice! It may seem simple, but it isn’t always easy. Give yourself space, time, privacy, and as much support as you can. You will be glad you did. Through this exercise, we found that we could harvest so much good, even from something as difficult as the pandemic.
Margie’s Story About Positives From Pandemic Life
A crowded calendar of Zoom meetings became the norm for my pandemic life. At first, I really missed the social conversations that were always a part of my in-person meetings, but as we became more proficient and the technology became more of a tool than an annoyance, I began to see positives in our Zoom meetings. One of the first things I noticed was how much I enjoyed seeing my friends and colleagues’ personal surroundings. Our “off-the-cuff” social conversations changed from the usual to an interest in, and an appreciation for, the individuality in our respective environments.
Here is another great benefit I noticed. Since I live in a small town, with a difficult commute from the metropolitan area, it was a frequently arduous task to get guest speakers to come out to our meetings. But because we were Zooming, we were able to get guest speakers much more easily, so during the pandemic year, we had a very robust program for our meetings.
One last example, I was able to participate in more training sessions and classes than I would have if I had to drive into the city. Because of that, I took several masters classes on topics that were far afield from my customary pursuits.
We only have one more step in our post-pandemic practice - taking the positives and turning them into wishes! We’ll write about that in the next “Post-Pandemic Life” segment, but in the meantime, we would love to hear from you! If you have any questions, comments, insights, or stories about wishes coming true, please contact us!
The photo featured in this post was taken by (and is copyrighted by) Barbara J. Dickinson.