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The Next Right Thing

1 September 2020

Allison listened to The Next Right Thing from the Disney Frozen II soundtrack and was reminded that a good song can help you feel better and focus.

Tags: allison read, allison watched, balance, covid-19, grief, mindfulness, music

Have you been feeling overwhelmed, sad, or anxious? Maybe you’re wondering how you’re going to balance work and helping your children go to school virtually. Perhaps you’re trying to find a new job because you’re still furloughed. It could be that you have a job and you’re grateful for it, but you’re feeling overworked and guilty about the fact that you should be grateful you have a job, but you’re also very tired.

You could be wondering what will happen to COVID numbers in your community when so many people go back to some version of school. Social injustice might be breaking your heart. Or maybe you’re feeling lonely and missing people or places you used to love visiting. You want to be informed but the news and talk of politics exhaust you. Perhaps you feel weak because so far things in your orbit are mostly okay, but you just don’t feel good.

Last month, I shared this post on different social media platforms, Your ‘Surge Capacity’ Is Depleted — It’s Why You Feel Awful. It seemed to resonate with folks in a special way. Our surge capacity is “a collection of adaptive systems — mental and physical — that humans draw on for short-term survival in acutely stressful situations, such as natural disasters.” It simply isn’t supposed to be tapped for a long period of time. That insight as well as this question from the post really comforted me “‘Why do you think you should be used to this by now? We’re all beginners at this,’ Masten told me. ‘This is a once in a lifetime experience. It’s expecting a lot to think we’d be managing this really well.’”

With this new perspective in mind and some suggestions from the post, I honestly can say I’ve been doing pretty well the last few weeks. However, I do notice that I get overwhelmed and discombobulated a little more quickly and a little more often these days. I find myself wanting to give up or wallow in frustration, when I know what would help most of all is if I could just focus on what I can control. In those moments, I often turn to these affirmations or this breathing exercise. But if neither of those work, then I try a favorite song.

This week, I’ve been singing The Next Right Thing from the Disney Frozen II soundtrack. If you haven’t seen the movie, you should! Both Frozen and Frozen II are full of delightful fun and lots of lessons whether or not you have children. When Anna is singing this song, she has just lost two loved ones. She’s at the depths of despair and unsure of how to find the strength to go on. Slowly she focuses on the only thing she knows to do… The Next Right Thing!

While I’m not nearly as sad or overwhelmed right now as I have been when a loved one has died, I do know that I’m managing a kind of grief. I loved my life in the Before times, and I mourn the loss of how things were for me before March 16, 2020. (Aminatou Sow is the first writer I saw use the term "Before times.")  I’m getting better at living this way each week, and I believe that one day we’ll return to something that resembles normal, but I do better when I acknowledge that I carry the weight of what I’m missing. In those moments when I’m tired, overwhelmed, and thinking I’d rather get back under the covers, I remind myself to try to do The Next Right Thing.

What songs cheer you up, get you in the zone, make you focus, or help you to motivate?


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