I started to write this article in July, after what seemed like a long five months of a worldwide pandemic that was starting to get better. We were learning to live with the uncertainty in our lives and the health and financial impact that COVID was causing. Masks had become commonplace and we had flattened the initial curve. Now, four months later, it feels like we are entering what could be the toughest stretch in this fight, but there is some light at the end of the tunnel. Our treatment of the virus has improved and there are several promising vaccines that will hopefully begin distribution soon.
At times this year we have all felt a sense of despair and helplessness. We watched the heartbreaking footage from New York City hospitals during the initial surge in March. We saw our kids and grand-kids being sent home from school for virtual learning. We had major events like weddings and graduations cancelled. It was all beyond our control and all we wanted to do was return to normal. Unfortunately, normal hasn’t arrived yet, even if it does feel a little closer than it has in a while. Instead we’ve had to adapt and learn to live with the circumstances we were dealt. It is important to understand the difference between what we can control and what we can’t, but we can always control how we respond to the situation we are faced with.
It can be easy to give in to those feelings of desperation when the world looks so scary. But even in the darkest moments, you can find light. I’ve found it extremely helpful to cultivate a gratitude practice over these past few months. There are many things that I am grateful for, and with Thanksgiving coming up this week I thought now would be a good time to share them:
Health - Our family and close friends have been lucky, so far, to stay healthy and virus-free. While that can certainly change in an instant, this pandemic has shown us how important it is to not take this for granted. If we were to get sick, we have access to healthcare resources that not everyone has and I’m incredibly grateful for this as well.
Home - As I spent more time at home during the pandemic, I realized how lucky I am to not only have shelter, but a nice house with plenty of room and outdoor space. There are many people out there who are homeless or who are living in small cramped apartments.
Family and Friends - It is easy to overlook the importance of our friends and family but times like these reinforce how important it is to be surrounded by loving people you care about. Many people are struggling without these support systems in their lives.
Great Clients - It is during times like these that our clients need our guidance and support more than ever. This is something that we do not take lightly. We appreciate you giving us the opportunity to continue to serve your needs and be a resource for all aspects of your life.
Our Firm - I am surrounded by a wonderful team that cares deeply about our clients. This has been one of the most important aspects of our firm in the 26 years since I started it. They have always been like family for me and our clients.
Our Profession - I have a network of colleagues and friends around the country who have practices similar to ours and they have been an incredible support for me during this challenging year. We have had regular calls and virtual meetings to discuss the issues our clients are facing and they have been a great resource to help us serve our clients better.
Getting Outside - I try to get outside frequently as the fresh air and nature is often my best medicine. While it will be more difficult going into the winter months, I think we will continue to see people looking for opportunities to exercise and move outdoors. Science has proven how much this can improve our mental and physical health.
This Thanksgiving will be unlike any other. You might be spending it at home without any family for the first time. You might be mourning the loss of loved ones or praying for those who are sick and suffering from this virus. We have all faced many challenges this year and it can be difficult to find the light in these dark times. Yet we all have something to be grateful for, no matter how big or small it might be. Sometimes, just taking a few minutes to think about this can really shift your mindset, especially during times like these!
- Lyle K Benson Jr., CPA, PFS, CFP
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