Finding Hope for the Future in the Time of COVID
By Kimberly Lauer, Esquire
Now that we are more than six months into the COVID global pandemic, we have had some time to reflect on the emotional toll a global health crisis can cause. Everyone has had their lives turned upside down in one way or another this year – the strain of child care, care for older relatives, work from home stress, and the devastation of job loss. All-in-all, 2020 has been an emotional rollercoaster. So in the wake of all of this, how do we find something positive?
There is a wonderful movie starring Will Smith that exemplifies recalibrating your perspective in the pursuit of happiness. If you haven’t seen the movie, I highly recommend it. There is no better time than a moment of crisis to re-evaluate what really matters in life. In fact, many families have been doing this already, even if they haven’t labeled it as such.
Uncertainty about the future creates anxiety and fear. Our cumulative sense of dread and impending doom have not helped. Sometimes it is hard to recognize how your own fear and anxiety is chipping away at your nerves. Yet, it has been widely recognized by psychologists and counselors world-wide that we are not doing ok. Have you seen some of the top selling books lately? United States of Anxiety, Maybe You Should Talk to Someone, and even Ina Garten’s Modern Comfort Food all attest to how this messed-up reality has impacted our sense of security.
One resource I have turned to recently is The Happiness Lab, hosted by Dr. Laurie Santos, who has made an in-depth social science study of what truly makes us happy. HINT: It’s not buying new things. While you might get an immediate rush of excitement from a new purchase, that excitement fades astoundingly fast. Instead, happiness comes from the combination of quality time with friends, practicing gratitude, acts of kindness, exercise, and rest that most contribute to our sense of contentment and satisfaction. But knowing what makes you happier isn’t enough, you need to practice it a little each day.
The last six months have been the most anxious, nerve-wracking, nail-biting months of my life. I have worried for far-away family members, high-risk friends, and even just what would happen to my cat if I got COVID. None of these things do I have any control over. This is when I return to my own pursuit of happiness. I know there are things that I can control and ways that I can try to make it better. So I focus on the things I can control – taking a walk each day, eating fresh food, and taking a few minutes each day for quiet time or meditation.
When you are going through divorce it may feel like there is a mountain of uncertainty. That can be the scariest thing – you may not be sure where to go from here. There are so many things outside of your control. But there is still one primary thing you can control – yourself. You can control your own perspective, what you say, and what you do. These are powerful tools for leading yourself out of the darkness and on to the path where you want to go. Sometimes getting through a single day is an accomplishment. Practicing kindness is important not just for others, but with yourself as well. Take it one day at a time and concentrate on one thing each day that will help improve your outlook.