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Cabin Fever, Virtual Graduation, and Camping in the Backyard

Over the last few months, I’ve thought a lot about the power of positivity. What does it mean to look at this unique situation as a glass that’s half-full instead of half-empty?

Plenty of scientific studies have shown that a positive attitude can improve your life mentally and physically. Researchers at Johns Hopkins, for example, found that people with a family history of heart disease could reduce their odds of a heart attack by one-third just by staying positive. That kind of research first surfaced in 1985, when a newly developed “hopefulness test” showed that optimistic college students handled stressful academic situations better than pessimists.

Michael F. Scheier, one of the researchers behind that study, told The Atlantic, “I think it’s now safe to say that optimism is clearly associated with better psychological health, as seen through lower levels of depressed mood, anxiety, and general distress, when facing difficult life circumstances, including situations involving recovery from illness and disease.” Personally, I think parents have even more impact on kids’ positivity because of their approach to living spills over and influences their children. That’s why during this whole coronavirus crisis, my wife Lyn and I have been doing our best to stay positive. I think our daughters need to see us dealing with this situation and moving forward before they can do so themselves.

To make our home feel normal, we’ve been spending a lot of time together as a family playing games, doing puzzles, hiking, and having movie nights. When the weather is nice, we splash around in our blowup pool and play endless games of basketball. Over Memorial Day weekend, I even pitched a tent in our yard and camped out with the girls. We made our own “American Ninja Warrior” course and roasted s’mores over a “campfire” on the grill. I hope the girls will treasure these memories as much as I will.

That said, it hasn’t been all campouts and game nights. Some days, we’ve been depressed, frustrated, or stir-crazy from being cooped up. Like every family, we’ve had to roll with a few punches and disappointments.

At the end of May, for example, my oldest daughter Emmie hit a big milestone when she graduated from middle school. We were really proud of her, but it was hard for her because she couldn’t celebrate with her friends or go out to eat. The graduation ceremony took place over Zoom, and to make it up to her, we had balloons, ice cream, and dinner delivered. Doing things that way wasn’t ideal, but instead of dwelling on what’s not possible, I’ve tried to appreciate all that we have. I feel lucky to live in a place where we can easily have food delivered and to have the luxury of spending time with my family when others aren’t so lucky. I feel blessed that our law firm continues to help people every day during this crisis.

I hope that whatever your situation, you’re doing the best you can to find positivity. It just might help you get through this. I know I’m counting on it!