Steps can be taken to stay positive in the time of COVID

Q: I have been enjoying your column in The Western Producer for years.

I think that what I like best is that you usually come up with something that will make life easier for those of your readers who send their concerns to you. It is all very positive.

At least it was until all of us had to bear down under the cloud of our latest pandemic.

This is a tough one. I look at all that is happening in the world today and I wonder, how can anyone who is least ways intelligent come up with a positive response to our current affairs.

This is a challenge for you, is it not, Mr. Andrews? I am looking forward to your response.

A: Thank you for your letter. You are right, this latest pandemic is as challenging as it gets for those of us committed to a more optimistic take on the meaning of life. In fact no one can get to that optimistic plateau who has not first appreciated the full extent of the devastation that our pandemic is nurturing. No country in the world has escaped its tentacles and no people, anywhere, are beyond vulnerability. Psychologically, this thing is about as big as it gets. There is no running and hiding from it.

At times it seems that the only way we can find a neurological out is to either have a complete mental breakdown, a total eclipse from reality, otherwise known as psychosis, or appreciate that somewhere in the future our long quested rainbow may not have that pot of gold, but it won’t have a virus either.

The ultimate reprieve is a hope for better things to come the day after tomorrow. The question is, how do we get there? How do we fall into a more optimistic mode while waiting for the world to right itself?

Fortunately the literature has some useful suggestions for all of us.

The first piece of advice I have found is that all of us need to start limiting the amount of time we spend watching the news. It does not change that much within 24 hours, but if you hear the same disheartening item over and over, you might get more discouraged than you need to be.

Reporters have a tendency to take something as big and devastating as is the virus and make it even bigger than it really is. Let’s face it, despite the virus, those early morning rays of sunshine can still be wholesome, and the richness of the soil churning under the seeder when you are working the fields is not to be denied. It is fresh and wonderful and worthy of your attention.

Number two on the list of things to do is to not give up on that which you can control. It seems that the virus is having a field day in our bank accounts and what were once assured and safe investments are not as secure as we once thought. But whatever our level of income, or our source for financial support, we can still manage our affairs with a high level of dignity, buying only that which is needed and assuring that the pantry in the kitchen is well-stocked. The formula is simple, self-esteem is built on what you have, not on the trite of what you are buying.

Number three is to do what you have been told to do. The experts are saying that the best we can do at the moment is to stick around the house whenever we can, to social distance ourselves from friends and neighbours, and to wash our hands goodness knows how many times a day. You can do that and you will be the better for it. You will feel better about yourself.

Number four is gratitude. We can always appreciate that which we have, and as we do so, the list of things we appreciate grows longer. The longer it is, the better we feel, and the better we feel, the more we appreciate that which we have. It is a great cycle.

No one feels optimistic all of the time, even in the best of circumstances, but if you dwell on what you have, and don’t fester on things you either don’t have or have lost, you will make your way through this thing.

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