Lunch at a restaurant! With a friend, live and in person! A restaurant with indoor seating, no masks required for the vaccinated. OMG, I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. After the long year of home-cooking (not much variety there), take-out (fun from time to time, not all the time), and lusting in front of Food Network re-runs, the trip to the restaurant was more than a welcome event. It was Nirvana.

As my friend and I lovingly perused the menu, comparison-shopping the promised taste treats, I couldn’t help but overhear the conversation of the couple behind us. “They don’t have anything I want,” the woman moaned. “I thought you liked salmon,” her friend replied. “Not grilled like that, it’ll be all dry,” the woman said. “Maybe you can ask them to poach it,” her friend suggested. “Fat chance,” the woman said. “And what’s with the waiter?” she continued, “we’ve been here at least 15 minutes, and haven’t seen hide nor hair of him since he plunked the water down. Which he spilled on the table, by the way – look at that!”

No doubt the woman was correct, mostly anyway. But what a way to nuke an otherwise perfectly good experience! Instead of which, she could have simply focused on “What’s right with this picture?” It may not have changed the facts: perhaps the restaurant wouldn’t have prepared her salmon differently, and the waiter hadn’t been to their table in 15 minutes, but it certainly would have changed the woman’s experience of the facts.

Let’s see. It was a restaurant, so no food-prep to do or dishes to wash. There was an extensive menu, so lots of choices beyond the salmon. There was a person willing to wait on them. The couple was seated, together, indoors, without masks, which means . . . they could have enjoyed conversing with each other. They could have appreciated the simple fact of getting to be out in the world again, considering our past pandemic year. So much was “right” with their picture!

No matter where you’re at, no matter how you are coming out of your COVID-restricted shell, do your darndest to see “What’s right with this picture.” Your job may have suffered, you may have to adapt to new work circumstances. Your kids may be driving you bonkers with their bickering over changed school arrangements. You may be worried about what your friends will think of all this pandemic-induced weight you’ve gained or lost. You may be confused about how to resume normal family or couple or dating life, and what’s normal now anyway?

We are all in this together, more than ever. One thing I know for sure, we can all benefit from a healthy dose of “What’s right with this picture” when we look out at our changed world, our friends and co-workers, and yes, especially and even—ourselves.

Author's Bio: 

Noelle Nelson, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist and author of over a dozen books including “I Survived COVID-19, What Now?! Finding Happiness and Success in a Post COVID World." She focuses on how we can all enjoy happy, fulfilling lives, Listen to her podcast Up! Uplifting, Inspiring, Practical on Spotify and Google Podcasts.