(Guest column image)

Column: Making a choice for hope and optimism

Opening Our Eyes by Nan Dickie

We thought it would be over by now, this deadly pandemic.

We experienced a first wave, then a bit of a break over last summer, and then we were hit with the second wave. Is a third wave on its way?

The COVID-19 virus has been tenacious and unrelenting all around the globe for over a year now. It is showing no signs of easing up, of giving us a break. It doesn’t care about the havoc it wreaks, the lives it claims, the economic and social devastation it causes. It happily replicates itself as much as it wants and has ensured its future by creating variants of itself.

The world is fighting back. But with every step forward, such as the creation and distribution of vaccines, there seems to be a step back – witness the behaviour of too many people who don’t believe in the science, or the public health mandates, to keep the virus from spreading needlessly.

We are all fatigued. We miss the freedom to gather together, even in small groups. We can’t take part in activities which, a year ago, were vital for our mental, emotional and economic well-being.

We ask, “When will this nightmare be over?” No-one can answer this question definitively.

So, what are we to do? We continue to ride a roller coaster that makes us dizzy with worry and fear.

Read more: B.C. man who helped stranded U.S. family rewarded with new car, peanuts

Read more: Column: What we are now experiencing is grief

One thing is certain, we must not give up hope. Hope is what can keep us going when we don’t know what good will happen when, and we have little control over the outcome. Hope is critical during times of uncertainty, which is precisely where we find ourselves today.

Blind hope is not useful. Wishful thinking is not helpful. When we choose hope, we need to ask ourselves, “What can I do to make a positive outcome more likely? Is there any way I can gain more control in this situation?”

Hope needs to be active, not passive. Hope may not alter our present situation, but it can expand our capacity to respond constructively, creatively and courageously.

Hope can improve our odds of emerging on the other side of this pandemic in better shape than we otherwise might.

And then there is the next giant leap, choosing to convert our hope into optimism. Optimism involves looking at the potential positives of probable events; in the case of the pandemic, in the positives of vaccinating millions of people, thereby slowing down the virus. Optimism is influenced by our perceived control over the consequences of our actions, such as believing that wearing a mask (or a double-mask) will lessen our chances of contracting or spreading the virus.

An optimistic attitude helps us be resilient, can protect us against depression, makes us more resistant to stress and can lead us to better coping skills at this challenging time.

Each of us can make the choice for hope and optimism. Is that your choice?

Nan Dickie is a local author, speaker and former facilitator of a Salmon Arm depression support

group.

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Nan Dickie is a local author, speaker and former facilitator of a depression support group in Salmon Arm. (Contributed)

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