These days, it can be easy to lose your joie de vivre (English translation: joy of living) or at least feel like it’s missing in action. And who can blame you? It seems like there’s been a seemingly endless stretch of bad news that has lasted months, with our inability to get a handle on the Covid virus disrupting virtually every facet of life.
So with all that’s going on, how can you stay actively engaged with life? Should you sit back and wait for things to improve? Or should you step up right now and try to make life around you a little bit better?
I would suggest that you need to try and make life a little bit better, by taking a different approach to living, one that comes from the novelist J.C. Hutchins. In a short story he wrote several years ago, Hutchins decried the fact that we lead lives that are far too laid-back:
Most of us settle in and settle for what we have. Rather than pursue, we accept. Our lives become unwitting celebrations of passivity…we pine for better lives but live vicariously through our televisions.
Hutchins believes that what we need is a little gumption, a wonderful term that means “a spirited initiative and resourcefulness.” (Brings to mind Forrest Gump, doesn’t it?) In effect, this approach means we need to actively engage with life to get the things we want, including happiness. Hutchins asks us to take action:
Let’s declare war on passivity. Hush the inner voice that insists you’re over the hill, past your prime, unworthy of achieving those dreams. Get fired up. Find your backbone and your wings.
But how do you get “fired up” when you’re living under the restrictions of our coronavirus times? What do you do when you may be afraid to even set foot outside of your home (and depending on where you live, rightfully so). You might try this easy 8-step guide that for me epitomizes what gumption is all about. (Its source is unknown.)
An 8-Step Guide to Living Your Life with Gumption
1. Miss somebody? Call.
2. Wanna meet up? Invite.
3. Wanna be understood? Explain.
4. Have questions? Ask.
5. Don’t like something? Say it.
6. Like something? State it.
7. Want something? Ask for it.
8. Love someone? Tell them.
Simple, isn’t it? To me, this list illustrates that you have to be an active participant in your life. Each question is followed by an action verb, a step you need to take. These angst-filled Covid-19 days are no excuse to lock yourself, and your heart and soul, behind a closed door. Even meet-ups these days can be done virtually using Zoom.
I was recently reading about a real-life example of a person with gumption. Unfortunately, it was the obituary of a man who recently passed away from complications due to Covid-19, but his words live on here. His name is Joseph Michael Novi and he passed away last month at the age of 57. His obituary in the NY Times mentioned his “Joseph’s Pearls of Wisdom” which include these words:
Let those you love know you love them, share your knowledge and always ask for one more hug.
Three actions. 1. Talk to those you love and tell them you love them. 2. Share the wisdom you’ve gained over the years with those who need it. 3. When appropriate, hug those who are closest to you. May Joseph rest in peace—and may the rest of us get busy living.