As we read newspapers and watch news unfold on our phones or TV, we are exposed to a picture full of gloom and dire predictions. The pandemic we’re experiencing is unprecedented in the way it has affected the world’s health, jobs, lifestyle, economy, and politics. This experience challenges even the most optimistic among us to stay positive. Of course we need to take this virus seriously, but if we stay focused on calamity, our thoughts may become counterproductive.
While it’s important to identify danger and respond appropriately, it is also important to know when to shift gears. My husband and I have increased our biking recently, and I began thinking about the significance of gears. If we are riding a bike with a selection of gears, we know all the gears are important. But the last thing we want to do is get stuck in a gear ineffective for the terrain we’re riding. If we’re going uphill we need to shift to a lower gear so we can make the climb without exhausting ourselves. Without switching gears we may fold half way up the hill, unable to finish the climb.
Emotionally we need to be able to switch gears so we don’t get stuck in a fearful place, unable to make productive decisions. Being positive is not naïve or simplistic, nor does it mean ignoring life’s challenges. What it does mean is putting yourself in the driver’s seat, with the bicycle in the right gear, so life can be navigated with the positive help of open-minded thinking. It means experiencing resilience that leads to hope, serenity, and gratitude.
Here are a few ideas for staying positive in spite of difficult circumstances. While we limit our intake of daily news, let’s remember past experiences that were major life disrupters. We handled the unforeseen then, and we can do it now. We are resilient. And while we are being supportive of ourselves, we can also support local businesses with a take-out meal, gift cards, or a thank you note.
We build our positivity when we do random acts of kindness. It’s fun to send a note of thanks to a friend or colleague. Watch the smiles on the faces of grocery store employees, postal workers, and pharmacists when we say a verbal “thank you” for their services. A friend of mine is sending her grandchildren boxes of activities to help with all the extra time at home. I’m sending our grandson books from his favorite author, through Amazon, to add some fun after school work is completed. He loves knowing more books are coming. My husband sent a copy of his pilot’s log to his cousin who flew with him to Alaska in a small plane. Together they fished the commercial salmon run many years ago. The two of them are thoroughly enjoying reliving the excitement of their youthful adventure. These small kindnesses build positive emotions.
YouTube has thousands of funny videos that give us a hearty laugh. This is a positive activity to share with friends or family, and gives our minds a break from current events. We boost our spirits when we take time to notice all the people who are helping others right now. With more time at home we can look after our neighbors. In our neighborhood people are grocery shopping for those who can’t get to the store, sharing information on where to get paper products, and doing outside visits in small groups with appropriate distancing. When we each do our part, we keep our spirits lifted and each other encouraged.
We nurture positivity when we invest in what is uplifting. This is the time for our favorite inspirational books and music, and people’s stories of courage. We need to keep ourselves connected to positive people who love us and offer healthy support. Yesterday, Curt and I met 8 other people in Memorial park and spent a couple of hours sitting in the shade sipping and snacking while practicing social distancing. We talked about what was the best and what was the hardest part about this present pandemic. There was plenty of laughing at ourselves and each other. It was meaningful, rewarding, and oh so uplifting!
William Arruda writes, “In times of constant negative messaging, you need an antidote so that you can keep your positive attitude and march forward with determination and hope. Be deliberate in activities that are positive, heartwarming, stress reducing and laughter inducing.” Sounds like excellent advice for selecting the right gear to navigate the hill we’re on. Let’s keep pedaling together.
Until Next Time – Sylvia