Focusing on What’s Most Important

by Gary Gilles

In just a short period of time, it seems the world has changed dramatically as it relates to how we live our daily lives.

While “sheltering-in-place” was initially perceived as a “nice break” from the fast-pace many keep, it is now turning into agitation that invariably breeds anxiety.  So many of us structure our lives around work. But for many, that structure is either gone or altered in a significant way.

How are you using your “gift?”

We can fill those open spaces in our day with “stuff” to keep us perpetually distracted from the worries of the world, or we can look at this shake-up in our routines as a gift to be used responsibly. Look at your unique circumstances and think about how you could make each day a meaningful step forward in your work, your faith, your relationships and the larger culture.

I had mentioned in my last newsletter that I wanted to offer resources in these messages and I have three that you might be helpful. All relate to this theme of making meaningful use of your time and energy.

What is your mindset?

The first resource looks at how you think about yourself and your abilities. When you are faced with an unexpected challenge, whether that is loss of job, income, health, routine, or relationship, you can either respond to that loss with a spirit of helpless resignation or work toward a possible solution. Of course, solutions to these types of life-altering issues are not instant and can even be painful. But, it is the mindset you take toward potential set-backs that determines which path you take.

Your mindset matters

Dr. Carol Dweck, professor at Stanford University has done groundbreaking work on this idea. She says that people can broadly fit into either a fixed mindset or a growth mindset. A fixed mindset tends to view an obstacle as a hindrance to progress. A growth mindset views an obstacle as a challenge that can overcome with diligence and creativity.

If you would like to know more, you can watch Dr. Dweck’s TED talk on this subject or check out her book called Mindset for a more in-depth dive into the subject.

The power of showing up

My second resource pertains to how we are approaching our relationships these days. Many are feeling the “closeness” of sheltering together a bit too much togetherness. Patience and tolerance can be in short supply when you add anxiety into the mix. Parents in particular are facing challenges of how to carry on with their work while having their children home all the time.

The power of parental presence

I would highly recommend to parents a new book by Dr. Dan Siegel and Dr. Tina Payne Bryson entitled, The Power of Showing Up. Here is a short video from Drs. Siegel and Bryson that describes the basic ideas behind why showing up is potentially the most potent thing you can do in your parenting.

Time and urgency

Finally, here is an article I wrote previously for my blog that I entitled: Your Life: What will you do with the time that you have left? It will help you put the current challenges you are facing into a context for what you want the rest of your life to be about. There’s no better time to assess how well you are living out your stated values.

More appointment times

As I mentioned in my last newsletter, I am opening up additional appointment times in my practice for those who may be seeking help. I have moved to all virtual sessions (phone or video) for the near-term. These are normal, hour-long sessions that are no different than in-person sessions. And, for those who have Blue Cross PPO or Blue Choice plans, these remote counseling sessions are covered at the same rate as in-person sessions.

Contact me by voice mail: (847) 450-7788 or email: if you are interested in discussing one of these options.

Here you can find meaningful tips on parenting, marriage, eldercare, and how to deal with the stress of daily life.

And, as always, I welcome feedback or suggestions on a topic you would like me to address in a future letter. Gary

Leave a Comment

Previous post: