Positivity in a Pandemic


Not What I Expected


At the beginning of the dynamic year 2020, like some people I thought that the Covid-19 flare-up wasn't going to be serious. My impression back then was that we were going through some sort of mass hysteria over a virus that would have a very small impact on the general population. After dealing with some depression due to getting laid off from my first job after college, having to adjust to the public health measures everywhere and hearing about the numerous lives taken by the virus, I stand corrected.


I firmly believe that there's nothing too negative that doesn't have a positive side. After all, the low points are good because they allow us to appreciate the high points.


It can be comforting to be pessimistic because the disappointment of not meeting our high hopes brings pain. However, I've learned that leaning more towards optimism allows us to escape feeling stuck physically and mentally.



Dreaming and Doing


Working in the mental health field providing emotional support to people of all walks of life has allowed me to hear some inspiring stories. I've talked with elderly people about the heaviness of their loneliness while dealing with pandemic exhaustion and they've told me that they look forward to a future when the world celebrates because the pandemic is over.


In her thought-provoking book Rethinking Positive Thinking, psychologist Gabriele Oettingen explains that positive fantasies can be harmful because they make our unconscious mind believe that we've already accomplished a goal and we don't have as much energy to pursue that goal subsequently. But Oettingen also explains that positive fantasies, like the ones I've heard from elderly people on living to the see the day when the pandemic has been resolved, can be vital when we're simply waiting for an outcome.


We need to find ways to keep moving. It's not often that we're in an absolute waiting game where dreaming can make waiting less burdensome. Like flowing prevents a river from getting spoiled, taking action prevents dullness from entering into our lives.


Being my own life coach


The copy of Andrew Mathews' self-help book Being Happy! has been sitting on my work desk. I read this book when I was a budding teenager with a new-found interest in personal development and now that I'm in my twenties I'm using it to find simple, uplifting nuggets. When things are chaotic, going back to the basics of happiness helps.


Matthews proclaims that life is worthless unless we give it value. Finding the value of life sounds like a daunting philosophical task but it doesn't have to be.


I've been able to identify that the things that add value to my life are the things that satisfy my different levels of needs as a human being. We have to be an encouraging coach to ourselves in order to win at fulfilling our needs. These needs can range from making sure we're hydrated and properly fed to reaching our full potential socially, occupationally and personally.


It's tempting to give up on doing the good things in a pandemic. We have to talk ourselves into facing each day one at a time just like a coach would encourage their athlete to face an opponent. I pep myself with positive affirmations like "My anxiety isn't set in stone" and "I'm built for whatever today brings." My positive self-talk is like my mental Gatorade.


Whenever we get through a trial in life we wear that experience as a badge of honor. You've survived the Covid-19 worldwide chaos so far and that gives you the strength to live on.


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