For many of us, summer looked quite different this year. Whether we were separated from family due to the pandemic, unable to travel as we typically would, or trying to prepare for an unpredictable year (and school year) ahead, our summers have been full of adjustments and surprises. As we head into fall, it’s a good time to pause and reflect on the small silver linings and unexpected meaningful moments we’ve experienced. 

We asked our Thrive community to share with us one surprising thing they learned this summer. Which of these do you relate to?

We can’t control everything 

“One thing I learned this summer was to recognize what I can do about a given situation, and then do that. Worrying and getting worked up about things that I cannot control is a waste of time, and this summer proved that to me. I’ve chosen to let go of the things that are out of my control, and instead focus on what I can control, whether that’s going for a walk, calling a friend, registering to vote, or starting a new project. I’ve really learned the importance of focusing on what’s in my reach.”

—Dave Galloway, EVP service cloud and FSL adoption, British Columbia, Canada

Our own backyards can be an escape

“This summer, I’ve realized that there is so much to explore in my own backyard, and I don’t have to travel to exotic places to get away and rejuvenate. It made me realize how much the constant travel was perhaps an escape and I was not living in alignment.”

—Sarah Kalmeta, coach, consultant, and facilitator, Hong Kong

Slowing down is key

“I discovered I have more patience than I thought. When the world hit pause, I was forced to slow down my pace. I started realizing that not everything needs to be done in record time, and that not everything needs to be perfect. Taking action is better than doing nothing. I am no longer beating myself up about constantly needing to do more. I now remind myself that I have done enough, and I am OK with that.”

—Tanya Brown, intuitive business coach, Hoboken, NJ

Nature can recharge your batteries

“This summer I learned to put down my stress and get outside when I was feeling overwhelmed. With everything going on, it was easy to get caught up in worrying. It was easy to feel that I couldn’t enjoy myself because everything was falling apart.  But it was more important than ever to take time away from it all and unplug. I started to leave the cell phone in the car, and go for a hike to clear my head. It has been so essential to take time to unplug and spend time in nature.”

—Craig Inzana, content creator, Omaha, NE

Technology can help nurture relationships

“At the beginning of the summer, I was sad that I couldn’t keep my grandsons’ attention in our Zoom calls. They live in Italy and would usually stay on for several minutes and then run off to play. I decided to get creative with Zoom, and now create PowerPoints that tell stories of them and their favorite superheroes. I use pictures of them and import pictures from the web to make up the stories. They sit glued to the screen as they tell the stories back to me, shouting, ‘Again, grammy!’  Those are the best words a grammy can hear when physical closeness is not possible!” 

—Diane Gillespie, emerita professor, Seattle, WA

Family time is invaluable

“My takeaway this summer has been rediscovering the beauty of having my family. With the lockdown order in place, I was literally stuck in my parents’ house and had to work remotely. I’ll never forget the smile on my mom’s face as I argued with my siblings about a cheesy movie we were watching. My dad ‘declared’ that he had missed my cooking. My elder sister and I finally settled our differences. My younger brothers taught me how to play a new game they had created. I spent a total of 33 days with my family. I learned how to restructure my schedule to fit in family time. Work will always be there, but my family might not be.”

—Chiebuka Nwosu, content strategist, Lagos, Nigeria

Our kids are strong and resilient

“I learned how resilient my kids are. I have four kids in elementary school and was amazed at how well they adapted to virtual learning. I thought we were going to go crazy with me running my business and the kids learning at home, and they made it so much easier on me. I just had to let them do their thing.”

—Akilah Darden, president of The Darden Group, LLC, Indianapolis, IN

Beach vacations aren’t the only way to unplug

“One surprising, valuable lesson I learned this summer is that vacations that require traveling and include beach days in new locations aren’t the only way to unplug and reset. I developed a deeper appreciation for getaway locations within my state. I swapped airplanes for cars, beaches for mountains, and tourist attractions for hiking. Looking back, I enjoyed these unexpected staycations just as much as traditional vacations. This lesson serves as a reminder to always appreciate what’s right in front of me.”

—Alyssa Swantkoski, executive assistant, Denver, CO

Minimizing clutter can help boost mindfulness

“For the past three years, I’ve made an effort to minimize things in my life, ridding myself of belongings and various habits that were no longer serving me. One surprising lesson I learned this summer was that the concerted minimizing I had partaken in proved to be immensely valuable once the pandemic hit. With less moving around, traveling, and socializing, I was presented with the opportunity to be with my thoughts and better connect with my loved ones. With less mental clutter, I can better appreciate the important things in my life.”

—Lindsay Stefans, lighting designer, Los Angeles, CA

What’s one surprising lesson you learned from this summer? Share it with us in the comments!

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  • Marina Khidekel

    Chief Content Officer at Thrive

    Marina leads strategy, ideation and execution of Thrive's content company-wide, including cross-platform brand partnership and content marketing campaigns, curricula, and the voice of the Thrive platform. She's the author of Thrive's first book, Your Time to Thrive. In her role, Marina brings Thrive's audience actionable, science-backed tips for reducing stress and improving their physical and mental well-being, and shares those insights on panels and in national outlets like NBC's TODAY. Previously, Marina held senior editorial roles at Women's Health, Cosmopolitan, and Glamour, where she edited award-winning health and mental health features and spearheaded the campaigns and partnerships around them.