Generating Hope in the Face of Difficult Times

Do you find yourself feeling a little a little blue, impatient, angry, sad, or lonely because of pandemic living? I’m right there with you.

The Sunday after Thanksgiving was a grey day, and my mood was reflective of the color. The holidays had been small, but lovely, but the joy of being able to cook again with my broken arm was turning into a throbbing and tender arm and impatience with the healing process. I was sick of the pandemic and not being able to do anything but stay in the house.

At the same time, of course, I realized that I have relatively little to be moody about. My gratitude list is very, very long. I have not had a single person near me die from COVID, yet. Everyone is relatively healthy in my close family/friend circle. But a grey mood was present, nonetheless. And, the dire reports of those who are dying from COVID–one person every second at this point—is nothing short of devastating. This devastation has to be effecting us all energetically at some level.

After sulking for half the day not quite knowing what to do with myself, I decided to put on some music. Specifically, I was in the mood to chant. Chanting is a lovely practice from the yoga tradition, and I have many playlists dedicated to them. I put on my headphones and chanted to music on my phone as I straightened up around the house.  My husband walked past me at one point and commented “You’re a happy person today! It’s amazing how quickly I could shift my mood.

Later on Sunday, my husband and I made our weekly afternoon trip to my parent’s house for our patio party. This Sunday, over homemade cinnamon rolls and popcorn, we chatted about our day. My mother had listened to her church’s Sunday service online and shared the message on the first Sunday of advent.

The message was such a good one, I decided to share it with you today with credit to Jordan Alexander who gave the message. The word for the day was “HOPE” which stood for the following sentiments.

H =  Don’t be afraid to ask for help

O =  Keep optimistic

P =  Keep in contact with others (people)

EEveryone is in this together

These simple messages can go a long way in keeping our moods from dipping too far down in the days to come as we slog through the rest of this pandemic. We still have a long way to go. This is a marathon, not a sprint.

Ask for help. This is such an important one, particularly since many people don’t feel comfortable with it. I can’t tell you how healing my three week meal train was for me at the beginning of my recovery from surgery. It was essential to my functioning and required that I allow help be given to me.

Keep optimistic. Optimism is a choice and a skill that you develop. It isn’t necessarily a given. When you find yourself digging into the hole of negativity, use mindfulness to step back and take a bigger perspective of your life and the situation you find yourself in. Acknowledge the difficulty, but let in the good as well. Reflecting on what you’re grateful for is also very helpful in making the shift to optimism. I am reflecting on the blessings of my broken arm as there have been some really wonderful things that have happened as a result.

Keep people in your life. Even though we are in a pandemic, we still need people, but we need to keep each other safe. Zoom, Facetime, and other online platforms are great for staying in touch. Walking outdoors, even as it gets colder, is possible if you bundle up. If you visit in person, wear masks and stay socially distanced. I’d keep that to a minimum and to the people in your bubble. Social bubbles are research-proven to help slow the spread of COVID-19, because they limit the number of people whom you meaningfully interact with. Many experts suggest capping a bubble at about 10 people, which may be two or three households.

Everyone is in this together. I doubt that there is anyone on the planet that has not been affected by the pandemic. We are in the company with billions of others who are trying to make their way through this and stay sane and healthy. Knowing that you are not alone in how you feel can be quite healing and comforting.

As the story goes, after a woman lost her only child, she became desperate with sorrow and went to the Buddha for help. The Buddha told her that he could bring the child back to life if she could find white mustard seeds from a family where no one had died. She desperately went from house to house, but to her disappointment, she could not find a house that had not suffered the death of a family member. Finally the realization struck her that everyone experiences the loss of death and she was comforted by this knowledge.

I just got off the phone with my Uncle Rex. Rex is 93 years old today and he has had three wives die before him, one as late as last spring. In an unfortunate turn of events, his wife (many years younger than him) died because she didn’t get the care she needed. She had made six trips to the Emergency Room trying to get help but was turned away due to the attention on COVID cases instead. The last time she arrived, they admitted her and she died a day later. It was an unnecessary death. Despite his sorrow, Rex told me “Where there’s life there’s hope.” He is looking forward to creating his life again, at age 93, and already has a nearby neighbor lady leaving food at his door and winking at him.  

Find HOPE in your life. It’s always there if you look for it.