As Winter Solstice is upon us with long nights now growing shorter, I daydream about the previous year. All that I am grateful for, all that I celebrate, and all that I cherish. You are part of that daydream, and today I offer you all my best with wishes for a joyful 2021, along with a promise. Many thanks to guest contributor Allan Weisbard of Healthy Optimism for his eloquent expression of this wish—and promise.
Shine Your Light. I’ll Shine Mine. Together We’ll See Our Way Through.
by Allan Weisbard, LCSW
All of us struggle with dark times, whether it’s a private, personal crisis or a public, worldwide crisis. As I shared in a recent Ashland Daily Tidings article, I learned this lesson early when two months shy of my 13th birthday I lost my younger brother to cancer. But I also learned that when we make our light shine bright, we can dispel the shadows.
Shining your light also helps others feel more resilient. Your light joins with and amplifies the optimism and resilience that others shine, creating a clear path through the darkness.
How to shine your light—even when it feels like you’re in a long, dark tunnel.
1. Cultivate Healthy Optimism
Tell yourself, “I will get through this. This too shall pass.”
2. Hold Integrity to Your Boundaries
COVID precautions are a sign of love and respect for family, friends, and community. Remembering this makes it easier to be firm in your limits.
3. Remember Kindness
Think positive thoughts toward everyone you see and choose to be kind every day. See all the little things people do for you each day and thank them.
4. Be Grateful and Appreciative
With modern medicine and technology, there is no better time to be living through a pandemic. We have a vaccine on the horizon, video conferencing, movies, and online ordering at our fingertips.
5. Look for the Silver Linings
It’s easy to concentrate on what you’ve lost, but look for what you’ve gained. I know that I have gained a more leisurely lifestyle with more time to explore new interests.
6. Challenge Pessimistic Thinking
Replace negative, self-limiting thoughts with positive self-talk. Focus on what went right instead of what went wrong. Find something that can bring you joy each day … fresh air, foliage, clouds, etc.
7. Seek a Sense of Awe
A sense of awe is valuable for getting through hard times. Enjoying nature in-person or on shows is soothing. Actively seek out moments of awe to increase your positive emotions and decrease stress.
8. Remain Socially Connected While Physically Distant
Many people have reconnected with friends and relatives utilizing Zoom. A continued sense of social bonds is a key to happiness. Is there someone you can reach out to?
9. Curate Exposure to the News and Social Media
Find some good news and share it with others! Feel free to take a news sabbatical. Read other sections of the paper such as science, health, or book reviews.
10. Imagine Positive, Joyful Outcomes
Making a positive Post-Pandemic Plan for yourself helps you to start living that positive outcome in your mind. I look forward to travel and visiting friends and family, without worrying. What are some activities you’re looking forward to?
Inside the word emergency is the root word emerge. How do you want to emerge differently from this crisis/opportunity?
Your Optimism Challenge:
I encourage you to choose a few ideas from this list and try them and see how it can strengthen your resilience. If you’re still having trouble getting your light to shine, reach out to a friend or a professional for help. I’d love to hear what works for you.