Around the nation, students are heading back into the classroom. For many of us, it is a return to at-home virtual learning, which puts a strain on parents and students. Exponential trends of COVID-19 cases are increasing restrictions in several areas. Elections, a core element of our democracy, are under fire. It can be a struggle not to get weighed down by negativity, fear, or frustration in our society's inability to have constructive dialogue. Complaining is a dead-end street, so where does that leave you?
Two things help me balance my perspective and find a positive way forward.
(1) The first world problem (FWP) test
(2) Reflecting on the many blessings of my life
Here are examples of how this conversation plays in my head
FWP - during the Syrian uprising, government schools disintegrated, and the government limited access to books.
Blessings - my child is receiving an education, we have internet and computers in my home, my child can handle online learning
Conclusion - although I prefer "normal" school, the truth is that my child and I can make this work, and we are lucky because, for many families, online school is a tremendous hardship.
FWP - our nation has the means to respond to this crisis, and people all over the world are adhering to the same public health guidelines. Many countries and their people must wait on nations like the US to find and share a cure, and thus will suffer higher risk and loss.
Blessings - I can afford to buy PPE, I am keeping my loved ones safe, I am staying healthy and able to work.
Conclusion - I care about my loved ones and believe in a shared responsibility to be good citizens. Any inconvenience I experience is temporary and aligns with my values mentioned above, so the small price I pay isn't worthy of complaint.
I have many blessings to count in 2020.
Our lives are disrupted, we are inconvenienced, and many of us have less than we had before COVID-19. We loosely use terms like sacrifice from the insular view of the prosperity we've earned and grown to expect. And yet, if we look beyond our normalcy, it is easy to see that our sacrifices pale in comparison to so many others within our nation and around the world.
Although there are hard limitations, I believe we can create the future we want, which is the promise of America that attracts immigrants. Achor states that happiness is a choice, and his research shows why it is worth making. A couple of results that struck me include reducing stress by 23% and increasing productivity by 31%. But more importantly, happiness is the fuel that allows you to achieve your goals.
Hope is an essential ingredient to happiness. If you are growing weary of the negative discourse surrounding you, I offer you my simple way of resetting my perspective. Perhaps it will bring you a much-needed respite and the ability to rediscover the happiness that has never left you.