The swarm of news and articles that we have been scrolling past have been constantly ringing a bell to call to attention of an incompetent government, a looming Greater Depression, and the collapse of industries that have historically held our society together. In these uncertain times, we begin a mental tally of our worth to measure against our chance for survival. Do I have a skill I could market for a price? Could I sell the car if money is in a pinch? If I had to, how long could I go without paying rent or mortgage? These mental audits, while important to assess, can be terrifying. There are infinite variables to account for when the future is uncertain.
“Optimism doesn’t wait on facts. It deals with prospects.” — Norman Cousins
The smoke and mirrors of social media-amplified news can have us confuse prospects with facts. The most viral news are also the most shocking pundit articles, and can easily muddy our reality with clickbait. If you are a worrier and planner like I am, this has been a difficult two months to keep the mind rooted in the present. Even on days with the spring sun shining, I found it difficult to tear my mind away from planning, doing, reading, and fixing anything I can get my hands on.
In these difficult times, I’ve had to constantly remind myself that optimism is free. Despite the constant worrying and planning, the one thing I can access at no cost, and even faster than a handful of comfort food or an episode of a full-good TV, is optimism. Because pessimism truly costs the same as optimism — it is merely a choice but with two very different outlooks.
If optimism comes difficult to you, as it does sometimes for me, I turn to gratitude. In the gratitude checklist above, those are some main facets that can bring create belonging, and opportunity: the speed dials to optimism. If you scored more than 9+ on this checklist, the pandemic and this mismanaged nightmare has not conquered you. The stay-at-home efforts of our neighbors and the sacrifice of our frontline workers have kept the worst from us. We are still OK. We can still chase our dreams, protect our family, and build our future.
Choose optimism today, tomorrow, and the next day so we can embrace this episode of history together. The news cycle will churn on and on, but as long as we keep our minds and feet rooted in the present, we have each other to rebuild a new future together. Choose optimism because that’s how we inoculate from being paralyzed by fear; because that’s what our family and community need from us; because we’re doing OK; because we deserve it.