If you’re anything like me, you’ve stepped into 2021 hoping for a better year. The year 2020 went out with a bang. Literally, for me: I hit myself in the head with a metal ladder, requiring a trip to Urgent Care, a single stitch, and a tetanus shot. No permanent damage, though. How did your 2020 end? And how’s 2021 going so far?
I could complain. First, my attempt to replace a beloved pair of shoes (that are falling apart from being worn practically everyday), by ordering three similar pairs online, resulted in having to return them to three separate venues a week later. So much for trying to stay home and stay safe.
I could complain. My elderly mother’s home aide came down with Covid-19, necessitating a test for my mother and a waiting game for me and my sisters who’ve been sharing in my mother’s care.
Again, I could complain. But, on a much larger and completely unrelated scale, a mob invaded the US Capitol, shaking us to our democratic core. The news media and social media sites report on every disturbing angle of that appalling attack. While it’s important to be well-informed, it’s draining and anxiety-inducing to obsess over every scrap of news.
I see an awful lot of people complaining on social media. I see people griping and clinging to the worst of it all. But focusing exclusively on the negative just bring us all down. It really doesn’t help anyone. I’m not suggesting we ignore it and pretend everything’s rosy. I’m suggesting that we shift our focus for the sake of our mental health and well-being.
This pandemic has impacted everyone. Violence and hateful rhetoric impact everyone. Anxiety and depression increase, the more isolated and crisis-focused we are. So I suggest, at the end of the day — literally, at the end of each day — that we take a moment to focus on the positive instead. Turn off the news. Log out of social media networks. Choose gratitude — even if it’s only for the air you breathe or the blanket that covers you. Reflect on something positive that happened in your day. Maybe the sun shone. Or maybe you let someone into traffic in front of you today. Or maybe you had food to satisfy your hunger or you smiled at someone. At the end of the day, cling to what’s good. Practice gratitude. Take a deep breath and try to let go of the negative, the hate, the fear. In doing so, we make 2021 a better year. Are you with me?