Steve Jobs once said: “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.” I’ve always been fascinated by this concept, and wondered if consciously connecting the dots when you are going through something stressful or emotional could shift your mindset.
Then I had a moment in my life where all of this became crystal-clear. In the middle of everything that was happening, I was able to see the dots connecting one event to the other, which then gave me the mindset shift I needed to avoid having a mental meltdown.
Over the past month, we’ve talked about letting go of the old, getting clear on what you want to create, and then having the mental space to create something new. I’ve been doing this for a number of years, using three non-negotiable practices: daily meditation, regular self-checks, and always practicing mindfulness. Doing this has been life-changing for me, especially as I tackle challenges in my life.
Many of you who’ve been following me might know that I’m currently in a doctoral program for organizational and leadership psychology. As the type-A overachiever that I am, I decided not to take two classes like most people; I’m taking three at once. I’m also running a business, recording a podcast, writing a book, and doing all the things. But I love it because these are all activities that I love to do.
As the last semester was wrapping up, a friend of mine invited my husband and I to stay at the Ritz in Aruba for five days after Thanksgiving. They’d gotten a great deal, and instead of paying $2,000 a night for the club level, we were splitting a room cost of $500 a night. I was looking forward to this trip, and wanted it to be a real vacation, so I prepared ahead of time. I had three final papers due before Thanksgiving so I frontloaded two of them, and figured I’d do the last one during the week of Thanksgiving.
Then my husband got sick with what we thought was the flu, because we are vaccinated against Covid. Despite that, he had Covid. The Monday morning before we were supposed to leave, I came down with Covid. By that time, that reservation couldn’t be canceled, which meant we’d be out of a non-refundable $1500 deposit.
I didn’t get the third paper done. I didn’t go to Aruba. And then, in the midst of all of this, my father-in-law, who was already battling cancer, fell and broke his hip. He had a number of complications after the surgery and my father-in-law started to decline quickly.
My husband had finished his quarantine period and he was able to go to the hospital, and have a wonderful, loving conversation with his father, just the two of them. A few days later, when my quarantine period was up (and on the day I was supposed to leave for Aruba), I was able to travel to see my father-in-law before he died.
Sometimes things happen and we can’t see the blessing in the event or the why behind it. However, I believe wholeheartedly that God/the Universe, is for us, and is never operating against us. I thought about Jobs’ quote and in the midst of all of this happening, I was able to connect the dots. That allowed me to avoid a meltdown, be present, and find gratitude in what I was experiencing.
I was even grateful for getting COVID. If I didn’t get COVID, I would have been on a plane to Aruba, and I would have been fighting to find a flight up to see my father-in-law. Because my husband got Covid first, he was released from quarantine earlier, and was able to have a wonderful, private, father-son conversation. I was able to see my father-in-law one more time and be there for my mother-in-law to help with the services.
We had tickets to see Neil DeGrasse Tyson on December 7th. When my husband bought them, he accidentally added on the insurance. When his father died, the funeral was planned for December 7th. Because my husband had bought the insurance, he was able to get a refund. Oh, and that trip to Aruba? The hotel didn’t end up charging us for the deposit.
We often can’t see why things are unfolding in the way that they are. But if we pause and reflect, we can see there is a reason for everything. What happened to my father-in-law was sad and tragic, but his sudden death meant he didn’t have a long, drawn-out period of suffering. He was able to have the time to talk to the people he wanted to talk to, and when he died, he was surrounded by the people he loved. I got to be there for my family in a way that might not have happened if I hadn’t had Covid.
That reminds me of something that I heard Michael Beckwith say in 2015 when I was at a seminar. He said, “It is what it is, accept it, and let it go. It’s either going to control you or you’re going to control it by accepting it, so you can move past it.” He also told the audience to “harvest the good,” which means to look for the good among the weeds. We had a previous blog post about releasing and forgiving so that you can move forward, because I think that’s really important, and part of harvesting the good.
I’m grateful for the way that things unfolded. I’m grateful for the work that I’ve been putting into my mindset and the ability to help other people experience the richness of life. I’m grateful for knowing how to control what I allow myself to get emotionally involved in. Like anyone, I feel grief, disappointment, sadness, but after I have the feeling, I let it go, I let it go fully and completely. And then I harvest the good out of that situation.
By doing this, I find grace, I find joy, I find peace of mind. That allows me to have deeper connections with people and be fully present in the moment. Today, when something bad happens or you find yourself in the midst of trouble, I want you to let go and harvest the good. Look back at the dots to see how the Universe was working for you, not against you. Find your peace of mind so that you can move forward and create something amazing in the new year.