5 Questions with Stephanie Groves is an ongoing series featuring local women doing interesting things that we’d like to know more about. Want to be featured? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ellen Saul is the Senior Director of Premium Services at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, as well as the creator of the “Couped Up Corona Time” private Facebook page, where she has posted something positive every single day since March 17, 2020. Saul’s joy-fueled musings have garnered quite a following, and the 449 members (and counting) of her community eagerly await her next post and enjoy lifting each other up and spreading gratitude.
We chatted with Saul to find out what drove her to start this endeavor, and how long she thinks she’ll keep going.
What made you decide to start your “Couped Up Corona Time” Facebook page?
On March 17, 2020, at the beginning of the mandatory quarantine period when my Facebook feed was filled with anxiety and uncertainty, I randomly shared that I wanted to start a Facebook group for this “Couped Up Corona Time.” The idea was to add something you learned or something for which you were grateful. There was interest from the beginning, and we’ve kept going. (And yes, “couped” is spelled incorrectly, but it stuck, and we never changed it.)
Has this endeavor taught you anything about joy and how to find it?
I can talk about this topic for hours. When you know you are going to post something positive at the end of a day, you walk through that day thinking about the good things that happen in your space. Maybe it’s a friendly stranger, less traffic on the way to work, kids who don’t whine on the way to school, a great lunch, a motivating workout, clean clothes, someone saying thank you, your husband making dinner, a beautiful sunset. Things you took for granted until you were asked to take note.
The practice of “flipping the cup” comes more easily. Challenges are easier to reframe. I’m less apt to become so mired down in anxiety so I’m better equipped to focus on solutions. This has been helpful at home and especially at work during these tumultuous times.
As far as finding joy, I think joy finds us. We have to be in an emotional intersection where peace, thankfulness, gratitude, and happiness meet. Thinking about joy this way has allowed me to experience joy in unexpected moments.
What is the most surprising thing that has come out of having and running this page?
The positive responses from people who thank me for continuing to post. Sometimes I wonder if people are tired of reading my daily ramblings—the Saul family life isn’t very interesting. The feedback I get is that the daily reminder to be grateful for something … anything … has been helpful for others as they’ve struggled through various personal challenges of their own.
What advice would you give others who are looking for some positivity in their lives?
Whether you follow Oprah’s advice and jot down five things for which you are grateful every day or join “Couped Up,” do something that forces you to slow down and take note of the good around you. No matter how small. No matter how often you write the same thing down. Hold yourself accountable or find an accountability partner. I think what’s worked for me is that I have 449 partners and I don’t want to let them down!
Also, it’s scientifically proven that regularly practicing gratitude alters how we react and respond.
A few months ago, I was given a book called “Thanks!: How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier” by Richard Emmons, Ph.D., that unpacks gratitude and its relationship to happiness. If you need science to back a reason to start a new habit, give this book a read. I’m quoting here, but, “our groundbreaking research has shown that grateful people experience higher levels of positive emotions such as joy, enthusiasm, love, happiness, and optimism, and that the practice of gratitude as a discipline protects a person from the destructive impulses of envy, resentment, greed, and bitterness … A person who experiences gratitude is able to cope more effectively with everyday stress, may show increased resilience in the face of trauma-induced stress, and may recover more quickly from illness and benefit from greater physical health.”
The last chapter of “Thanks!” provides a top ten list of how to practice gratitude. The last two listed are:
• Go through the motions—even if the gratitude feels forced, do it. Attitude change often follows behavior change.
• Think outside the box—look for new people, places, situations, things for which to be grateful. Open your mind and be creative.
These two resonate because I’ve employed both to make it this many days straight and I assume others who regularly post with me have done the same.
PS—Check out “Couped Up Corona Time” to see if you’d like to give it a try.
How long do you think you’ll keep the Facebook page going?
I don’t know, but I don’t plan to stop anytime soon.
Stephanie Groves is the Executive Editor of Indy Maven, and she is thankful for every day.