As a former health and physical education teacher (and friend of Spartan Race founder Joe De Sena), it pains me to confess that, from time to time, I take immense pleasure sitting back in my La-Z-Boy and watching TV on my Samsung 65-inch LED Smart 4K UHD TV with HDR. (I have no idea what that all means, but I do know it produces a phenomenal picture that I love to watch.)
However, after being cooped up indoors for weeks during this coronavirus crisis, watching TV has become more like eating chocolate cake every day. It just doesn’t seem quite as good anymore. In fact, with each day seeming more like Groundhog Day, life in general doesn’t seem quite as good anymore.
Life is indeed changing, and of late it’s been more challenging for all of us, which may cause us to feel anxious, stressed, worried, sad, bored, lonely, or frustrated. It is essential for us to try to take care of our mental health and well-being during this time of uncertainty and adversity. Doing so will help us think clearly and make sure we are able to look after ourselves and those we care about.
If I had to provide one piece of advice for managing your way through the stressors of this pandemic, it would consist of four simple words: Snorkel like Mallory Code. It’s a mindset that will determine how you respond to life’s trials and tribulations. It’s about how to be mentally strong, positive, and productive in the face of adversity.
Who Is Mallory Code?
As a teenager, golf prodigy Mallory Code was one of the top junior golfers in the world. She won four American Junior Golf Association titles, played for the U.S. Junior Ryder Cup and Junior Solheim Cup teams, and earned a golf scholarship to the University of Florida. Along the way, Code beat such golfing greats as Paula Creamer, Brittany Lang, and Michelle Wie, all of whom went on to win the U.S. Women’s Open.
However, what makes Code’s story so amazing is that she achieved her success while battling cystic fibrosis (CF), a debilitating and ultimately fatal disease that attacks the respiratory and digestive systems. It can also lead to such complications as diabetes, sinusitis, and asthma.
It would be easy to understand if Code felt cheated, or complained that life had been cruel and unfair to her, but that would run counter to her character — a character that was etched in faith, gratitude, optimism, and grit.
She considered herself blessed because she had an incredible family and wonderful friends. She didn’t see any point in sitting around and complaining.
When asked if there was anything she missed doing because of CF, she responded, with a smile, “I always wanted to scuba dive, because I thought that would be neat. I can’t do that, but I can snorkel. That’s pretty cool!”
Her attitude was more than pretty cool; it was remarkable. It also summed up her character and subsequent success. She didn’t get mired in what she couldn’t do; Instead, she focused on what she could do, and excelled. When life looked bleak, Code would find snorkels in the sand traps of life. She continually made lemonade out of lemons, regardless of the circumstance.
“No matter what happens,” she would say, “there’s going to be some good that comes out of it.”
As the disease advanced, it sadly began to take its toll on her body, forcing her to hang up her golf clubs for good after her freshman year at the University of Florida. Through it all, she never complained or felt sorry for herself. She remained a positive life force, living her life to the fullest while brightening the lives of everyone around her.
Although Code lived well beyond her doctors’ expectations, she tragically passed away on November 9, 2009. She was just 25.
Her impeccable character is a shining example, and an inspiration for all of us. The power of finding snorkels when the going gets tough cannot be overstated. It is that mindset that will help us get through difficult times. So, when adversities strike, as they inevitably will, we need to be on the lookout for the snorkels all around us. We can, and should, also look around to see if there is someone else who needs a little help finding snorkels, too. And to do that is, indeed, pretty cool.
7 Tips to Snorkel Like Mallory Code
Tip #1: Have a 10-90 Attitude
When things go wrong, as they sometimes will, you can choose to react negatively or handle it positively. The good news is you always have a choice of how you are going to respond to any given situation. The trick is to not let the situation determine your response. “Life is 10 percent what happens to you and 90 percent how you react,” Charles Swindoll said. Believe it, because your attitude and how you respond will make all the difference, even in the most dire situations.
Tip #2: Demonstrate Gratitude
How lucky are you? If you woke up this morning with food in your refrigerator, clothes to put on, a roof over your head, and a place to sleep, then you are more fortunate than 75 percent of the people living on the planet. You are indeed blessed. This doesn’t mean you don’t have difficulties, but hopefully you take time every day to be grateful for what is good in your life, because it can make a big difference.
Tip #3: Cowboy Up!
Life isn’t always easy. In fact, sometimes it can be really tough, even downright painful. So, when adversity strikes, no whining, no complaining, no excuses, and definitely no hitting the quit button. Instead, handle it the way winners do, and cowboy up! In other words, get back on the horse again and keep going, regardless of how many times you get knocked down.
Tip #4: Don’t Overthink
Try to avoid the trap of overthinking your problems. When your mind is in constant overdrive thinking about the same problems, it often makes things seem bigger and more negative than they really are. It can lead to feeling overwhelmed, and can make it difficult to act. A good way to stop the merry-go-round of worry is to redirect your thinking. Instead of repeating the same negative thoughts in your mind, try a positive distraction such as exercise, watching a funny movie, reading a good book, baking brownies, or playing the piano.
Tip #5: Practice Positive Self-Talk
At only 5-foot-3, Muggsy Bogues was an unlikely NBA star, considering the average NBA player is a whopping 6-foot-7. “All my life people said I was too small to play basketball,” he said, “but I always told myself I could do it.” Bogues told himself he could do it, and he did. This is also known as self-talk, which is a little voice in your head that whispers its opinions to you all day long. You may not realize it, but that little voice inside your head has a big impact on your success and happiness. With positive self-talk — such as “I’ve got this” and “I’m going to do great” — you will feel encouraged, confident, and competent. It is like having your own personal cheerleader rooting you on.
Tip #6: Be Prepared With the 3 Fs
They are coming. They are definitely coming. They are coming for all of us. What are they? They are adversities — the unavoidable setbacks, failures, and disappointments of life. Therefore, when they arrive, you shouldn’t be too surprised and overwhelmed with negative emotions or thoughts. Instead, be prepared by having a strong support system in your corner, none better than the 3 Fs: family, faith, and friends. Studies have shown that people who have solid ties to their family, faith, and friends tend to be more resilient during difficult times.
Tip #7: Make the Most of Today
Your gift is today. For the average person, that is 27,375 days over the course of their lifetime. What an incredible gift! It is your responsibility to make the most of each one of those days. Putting it off until tomorrow is wasting your gift today. By making today the best day ever, you guarantee yourself the best life ever. Because if not now, when?