One of the things I see get asked a lot is how people are managing to have good vibes, positivity, hope and something to look forward to despite everything going on in the world as it seems that it's hard to find some sense of joy when it seems that every day something happens that make us angry, depressed, cynical or like life lacks value now. As someone who has gone through A LOT in my relatively short time on Earth (and sorry if that sounded pretentious) I understand why the first instinct is to question why bother living when it feels like life is in a bad rut that we can't crawl out of.
There is NO denying that last year was one of the worst when it comes to world events, social justice events, political events and just so many things. It was literally a world-wide event that left us with so many scars, many of them too deep to heal, and made us realize how frail a lot of things in life are and made us realize that some of the people we looked up to were not up to our standards. As I heard someone say, last year we saw who truly were leaders of the communities and a force of change and who were just people that were hiding behind a facade. This, especially for younger folks, is a hard pill to swallow because you are JUST starting life as is and you are hit with everything that could have gone wrong.
So now more than ever the question of "how do I regain happiness and hope after all of this?" is relevant. And my answer is...depends on what kind of person you are. We may all have lived through all of this but the outcomes are very different for a lot of people; many of us lost jobs, loved ones, felt betrayed by people who supported politicians that believed in the dehumanization of a whole community, had to endure the worst in people while trying to sustain a living wage and more. These things have different effects on our psyche and thus how we move forward will vary from person to person.
For me, it boils down to one phrase I grew up hearing all the time; "There is no illness that lasts over a hundred-years nor a body that can resist it". To me, what this phrase means is that nothing bad lasts forever even if in our mindset it may feel like it has lasted forever. Right now, we are entering a healing period in which things are improving for people in some ways, despite some very obvious road blocks we had to endure. And even if an episode is just a very personal one, it never lasts long again even if it feels like it. Everything has a beginning and an end, even the worst of times. This is not the first time the world has been engulfed in such a situation, and even with many lives lost, damages made and history made, humanity made it through to tell the tale today.
What also helps me is that despite it all, I am thriving and most importantly, I am seeing others thrive too despite it all. Many of my friends have bought houses, been promoted at their jobs, have gotten fully vaccinated, have graduated successfully and more. The odd thing about life is that it never stops even if there seems to be "doom and gloom" everywhere, each and every one of us still have stories to tell, chapters to complete and new ones to start. As long as we are given the opportunity to live those moments, we are lucky and blessed. Seeing all of this inspires ME to on living on and taking it one day at a time, even if I have to wear a mask and protect myself at work and get vaccinated.
The other thing that has helped me in the past is to just be honest and open about what is going on to someone you trust. Unfortunately, people have taken to social media to air their grievances without much results except more anger, more angst and more outrage. Venting online to me feels like you are yelling from the bottom of your heart to a wall; you said what you wanted to say, but the wall won't respond no matter how hard you wanted to because it's easier to yell at a wall than to speak to someone. That's sadly how many people see it; it's easier to vent their grievances online, rant and vent than to truly connect with someone and talk. Of course, that's also if the person seeking to talk ACTUALLY wants to seek action and find a solution. I have spent hours talking to many people over the last year listening to their stories and then seeing them be stuck on the same rut over and over, sometimes INTENTIONALLY falling over to seek validation. That's when I learned that you can offer your shoulder for someone to cry on and listen, but it's not your fault if they didn't learn anything or try to make a change. We can't always be felt like we have to carry everyone's burdens on our shoulders because you have to worry about your own first. That being said, being someone that can listen or have someone to speak to can do wonders in making sense of things and going back to regaining some of that lost step.
Finally, for me what helps me is learning to appreciate ALL the things in life, from the small to the big ones. I feel that prior to 2020 we were all so wrapped up in many things that we never truly stopped to see how everything adds to the story that is our lives. In what seems to be a very weird blessing in disguise, we were forced to stop, shut down for a bit and then think about everything we had, everything we enjoyed, and how lucky and blessed we were. Now for many this drove them in further despair because they felt those things were gone for good. But for me, once some of those things started to come back, even with the frustration and growing pains, I was able to enjoy them in a better light and realize that in an instant it can disappear, but also come back. Living for those moments is what makes me continue to thrive and have a positive outlook because this is not the final chapter yet, this is just the bad chapter that every book has.
To clear the air, no, having a positive attitude does not equal ignorance of the ills of the world. If anything it may mean that you love live and the people around you so much that you WANT to fight for them and cherish them more. But having constant hopelessness, sadness and cynicism is not healthy either. Yeah, it can be hard to not feel that way when it seems that everything has been programmed to remind us of the ills of the world. But think; you are reading this right now. I don't know what your situation is, but if you are here, right now, that means you are alive, that means that we were lucky to just be here and have this conversation. Now dream of everything great that can and will happen soon. That can be hard to do, but I always dream of that because I know I have a lot ahead of me and thus what keeps me optimistic, hopeful and happy through all of this is that I have so many red-letter moments to experience, friends to meet, places to be and memories to cherish, and someday it's gonna be worth it.
To finish this off, I wanna leave off with this lyric from "Follow Me Home" from "Arlo the Alligator Boy"...
"Look at me, look at you, don't you see we can move with it? Take my hand, I'm here today. It's a chance, it's a leap of faith. What it be, what we do with it. Without you I lose my way. One thing I know for sure, is that we'll never be alone. So follow me, follow me, follow me home, everything will be alright"
People often fall into the trap that changing the world is a doable thing and failing at it is meaningless. Sometimes we can change the world and be the best by doing things our world, our society, our communities, our friends and family.
It's all too easy to be cynical with all the negative things going on the world, but it's also just as possible to say "ok, but I'm still going to do what I can to help make the world better, no matter what amount that is, it's worth it".
The last year was probably the worst of my life, and I'm sure it was the same for many others, but things are a lot better now than they were a year ago, even though we still have a long ways to go in many things.
I feel that as long as we have friends, we can make it through almost anything.