We hear about the importance of gratitude at almost every corner of the internet where there is the tiniest website dedicated to self-help. In order to be more satisfied, happier with your life, you must practice gratitude. You have to actively think about events, people, or even physical objects that you are grateful for.

But gratitude is not a new kid on the block. It’s not a novel whim.

The 19th-century American philosopher and author, Ralph Waldo Emerson already wrote about the importance of it.

“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.”

But the 19th century is almost like the day before yesterday. It might seem far away in the past, but it’s still close enough to easily relate to it, to understand how certain events and decisions still actively influence our lives today.

Let’s go even more back in time and make a big jump to the 2nd century AD, to the Roman Empire. The famous philosopher emperor Marcus Aurelius already wrote about the importance of gratitude in his journal:

“All you need are these: certainty of judgment in the present moment; action for the common good in the present moment; and an attitude of gratitude in the present moment for anything that comes your way.”

For anything that comes your way. Stop for a second and read is slowly. For. Anything. That. Comes. Your. Way. Yes, even including the hardships. What seems a barrier, so often it’s the way to go. If you want an easy life, you have to make difficult decisions and you have to remove some rocks of the way. The obstacle is the way.

These thoughts hit me like a thunderbolt while I was reading an e-mail about a postponed event where I was supposed to speak. Though these thoughts have been around for quite some time, all became crystal clear at one single moment of light.

These are difficult times. Thousands of people - luckily with a relatively low mortality rate and mostly with prior diseases - are dying. Millions of people are losing their jobs, losing their only income to feed their families. These people including a lot of developers are making the biggest sacrifices. Even more people - luckily we are even more - try to balance our daily lives between parenting, homeschooling, and work.

What can you be grateful for in these moments? Honestly. Don’t write down something just because you think that’s expected. What can you really be happy about? And let’s skip the parts about being still alive.

I’m grateful that I could try fully remote work for about a month now and who knows for how much time longer. For a long time I’ve been thinking that this is the future, this is the way to go and that actually I could easily get used to it. But I never tried. This is something I couldn’t have tried in this form and so easily without the coronavirus.

I can’t really say that I’m grateful that I had to cancel my vacation that I have been planning for months and waited for years. Not even close to that. Including more than a week that I must take before the end of May or I lose it. Well. I can take those days and I can either go to quarantine or wander around the hills below.

A nice place to go in confinement

But it also opened up an opportunity to talk at an internal event in my company which is broadcasted to all our offices worldwide. I’ll talk about Undefined Behaviour in the C++ Standard Template Library.

For this I’m happy, and I would have had to turn the opportunity down without COVID-19. Why is this important to me? Because eventually either online or later the year, I’ll present this topic at C++ On Sea. I just got a great chance to practice my talk.

I embarrassingly laugh when people talk about how much time they have because of the virus. With my wife, we feel that we have less. Parenting is a full-time job and it’s good like that. But not having schools makes it even more difficult and we have less time for ourselves. But I’m really happy that I can spend more time with the little ones.

We try to be active and do some things that are fun and useful as well for both them and us. One thing like that is baking. I’m an amateur of sourdough baking and kneading the dough is something that the kids can help with. Not to mention eating the results.

Baking in confinement

And last but not least, there is one more thing. I’m working in the travel and hospitality industry. Has our company been hit hard? Think about how many people make bookings or board planes nowadays.

At this moment I really had to start thinking about how to make myself more independent, how to make my income streams more diversified. Yesterday would have been the best moment to start building such a plan and the second-best moment is right now. The coronavirus gave me the final push.

Don’t get me wrong. Having people dying and many more people losing everything they worked for is not a good thing. It’s probably the worst thing I’ve seen in my life, but you can always find some points that can cheer you up and make you feel grateful.

What positive impacts have the coronavirus on your life?