2020 has not been an easy year for anyone. The COVID-19 pandemic has reshaped lives across the country, and at times has made it hard to have a positive outlook as the months have dragged on. But this time in our lives has made one thing more crucial than ever: Find joy.
That was former NFL player Chris Draft’s message to Chicago area middle schoolers on Monday. Keep your perspective, control what you can control and find things that bring you happiness.
“Find joy in each day,” Draft said. “Don’t focus on all the bad that is happening but focus on the things that you are doing … each day is a blessing.”
In his hour-long talk as part of the Chicago Bears’ Character Playbook LIVE event, which was virtually attended by several hundred students, Draft touched on many topics involving the pandemic and how crucial mental wellness is as kids continue to spend more time at home than ever before.
“We wouldn’t have chosen for this to happen, but there’s an opportunity for us to grow during it,” he said.
Draft emphasized maintaining a healthy life, doing what you can to help around the house and staying in contact with friends and loved ones that you can’t see in person. And of course, he reminded his audience that school is still incredibly important, even if it’s now an online environment for many.
He was willing to really open himself up to the middle schoolers who tuned in and were looking for advice. When one student asked a question about dealing with loss, Draft talked about how he dealt with losing his wife to cancer.
“I had to acknowledge that nothing that I did moving forward was going to bring her back,” he said. “I had to be OK with that. I had to accept that. She ran her race, and she did an amazing job. She fought all the way until the end… and it was important for me to remember her and not just the cancer diagnosis.”
He ended the session by reminding everyone again the importance of finding the joy and meaning that exists in every day, no matter how dark things might seem.
Draft started his NFL career with the Chicago Bears in 1998 and went on to spend more than a decade in the league. Monday’s event was held by the Bears and United Way of Metro Chicago.
You can learn more about Character Playbook here