Scary Days Ahead
The COVID 19 Pandemic has forced most of the United States into quarantine. 3.3 million people filed for unemployment in a single week—the same week the United States reported more people infected with the virus than any nation on earth, and the worst of the crisis is still ahead of us. This environment has little room for Optimism.
Optimism is a Choice
Despair is easy to slip into and underneath of, and these days there is negativity in abundance to lure us in. Emotional Intelligence reminds us that Optimism does not just happen. Optimism is a choice that we have to make, and a skill set we can develop. In these challenging times with stress, and even disaster, all around us, choosing Optimism is tough, but essential.
Here are six suggestions–actions we each can take while sheltering in place–to boost a positive outlook and actively choose Optimism.
1. Have a Goal
Optimism is a positive and hopeful view of the future, and nothing necessitates a positive view of the future more than holding and moving toward a goal. Small, finite goals play such an important role. Paying bills, making a grocery run, cleaning up, cooking dinner–goals push you forward and create the psychological expectation of the future. These expectations are the building blocks of Optimism.
2. Go Outside
Sunlight, fresh air, and the beautiful green buds of spring remind me of what is right and normal about this springtime. Each year my wife and I bet on which of the peonies will bloom first. This year’s stalks are reaching dutifully heavenward, reminding me that time marches on as it should. I would never remember that if I did not go outside and soak in these beautiful days.
3. Move Around
Even light exercise–walking, going up and down stairs, anything–increases neuro-plasticity and releases endorphins to the brain, both of which directly counter stress and depression. Choosing Optimism means moving your body around a bit.
4. Take care of someone/something
While it is so easy to get lost in the fog of my inner world and under waves of worry and sadness, I am continually pulled out of these by the here-and-now need to attend to those things and people who need help and support–who need me. Tend to and take care of someone or something. Caregiving is a powerful boost to your energy forward.
5. Surround Yourself with Positive People and Ideas
The news, politics, even the amazing new crime show you’re watching on Amazon Prime–it is so easy to–drip, drip, drip–sink under the weight of gloom and negativity. Make the choice to surround yourself with positive, supportive, and encouraging images, pictures, and stories. I recently discovered (on Netflix) the Great British Baking Show, and it is like a tonic to me these days. While a cooking competition, the contestants are so nice to and supportive of each other, and the judges are so constructive and positive. It is a confection for the spirit, and while Breaking Bad and the X-Files are among my favorite TV shows of all time, my Optimism is more buoyed by the Great British Baking Show these days.
6. Go Beyond Negative Thoughts to Find Positive Ones
Perhaps the most important action someone could take to lean into Optimism in the face of negativity and fear is to actively take note of–and even write down–positive thoughts. Push yourself to note and record your appreciations, not instead of or to the exclusion of noting fears and complaints, but in addition to those things. Optimism does not mean denying negative possibilities, pain and disappointment, but it does mean actively looking for the silver linings and those messages from history and this current day that are worth gratitude and celebration, and deciding to take strength and hope from those bits of joy and beauty that are all around us–even in the face of COVID 19.
Emotional Intelligence–the Best Coping Toolkit We Have
To learn more about Emotional Intelligence and the EQ-i assessment, of which Optimism is only a small part, visit OKA online at www.oka-online.com.
In the face of so much of the world’s sheltering in place, OKA has increased its online training offerings, including more than doubling the number of offerings for its two-day EQ-i Online Certification (the most popular and highly-rated online EQ certification program in the world).