"Jenny, does my voice sound scratchy to you?"
I ask this subtly so as not to alert her to what I am really thinking.
"You don't have the coronavirus," she responds.
Nineteen years of marriage has given her highly-tuned worry radar.
"That's not what I was asking," I say. That was exactly what I was asking. I wait a few more minutes to throw her off the trail.
"Do my eyes look a little red to you? Like redder than normal?" I ask casually.
"You don't have the coronavirus," she responds, not even looking up from her phone to properly check the redness of my eyes.
"I feel congested." I say, pressing on, as I try to make Jenny play a game of "Couch WebMD" with me. She will have none of it.
"It's allergy season. You ran five miles today outside. Through a pine forest. It's spring and you guzzled pollen. You don't have coronavirus," she says.
We've had this conversation approximately 97 times and we've only been home together for a few days. Please tell me you've done this same thing with a spouse or friend? No? It's only me? Fine.
Last week was weird for all of us. It didn't have a shape. I never really felt like I knew what day it was or what my proper response was supposed to be. Freak out? Go about business as usual? Something in the middle?
After spinning for a bit, I decided to make a choice. When things feel out of control, you often forget you have one. But the truth is, you do. Even if you have to work from home. Even if you have to self-distance. Even if your job, city, and future appear to have changed dramatically. You always have a choice.
Here's one: Fear or Faith.
This week, you get to choose fear or faith. Regardless of what happens, that's a choice you have access to every single day. What does that mean in a practical sense though? Here's an example:
Ask the news you're watching and social media you're using a simple question – Is this feeding my fear or my faith? Is what I'm watching, reading, and listening to, building up my faith or stoking my fear?
It's not a complicated question, but it is a powerful one.
I caught myself watching a program the other day that had a rolling death toll. It was like a stock ticker, but instead, it was tracking global deaths. Was that feeding my fear or my faith? Hmmm, that's a tough call. Really hard to tell the answer to that one.
What about the friends you're talking with right now? Do you have that one friend who is constantly predicting global destruction? They didn't predict the coronavirus, they didn't see that coming at all, but now they try to tell you exactly what's going to happen a year from now?
"In mid-2021, we'll be out of socks. The sock economy is going to completely crash and you'll have to go barefoot. My uncle is in the sock stock market and he told me."
Why does every negative prognosticator always have a friend of a friend of a friend who is an expert? I had no idea so many of my friends knew doctors, politicians and high ranking members of the military until last week.
Does engaging with that person who talks about doom like it's their hobby, lead to more fear or more faith? If it leads to more fear, you have another choice to make. Change what you're doing.
That's why I'm limiting the news I'm watching.
That's why I'm being more deliberate about the social media I'm engaging with.
That's why I'm looking for fresh ways to move to action, instead of getting stuck in anger.
One specific way is with Instagram. I'm doing more Instagram live to share new content like:
- Tips I've learned from working from home for 7 years.
- Tricks I've picked up about career transitions from writing my book "Do Over."
- The hope I've discovered even in the midst of trying times.
On weekday mornings, I'm going to share what I call "The Get Up!" It will be 3-10 minutes of positive content. If you want to see what I'm doing, follow me here: @JonAcuff.
These are weird days, but we've got choices too.
I'll continue to encourage you in the best ways I know how. First though, I have to check with Jenny about this runny nose I've developed.
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