Embracing positivity in our lives

May 13, 2020

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Mish Al-Roubaie examines the facts and looks at the optimism emerging during these uncertain times

We’ve been in lockdown for almost two months now; the national death toll is currently above 30,000, the global death toll is above 250,000, and the end is still not in sight.

Progress is slow, with Boris Johnson’s tentative steps to unlock England. We’ve certainly got some weeks, months maybe, to go before we can meet our friends at any kind of close proximity.

Not to mention, I’m way overdue for a dentist check up, I’m running out of socks and I really need a haircut right now!

On some level, life seems pretty bleak. It’s way too easy to get stuck in a vicious cycle of pessimism. But I want to take a moment to pause and look a bit closer to see if everything really is all doom and gloom.

Optimism is often a case of having a positive perspective, an angle that is easily overlooked during these trying times. Checking the death tolls can be depressing. It’s tempting to regard avoiding the news, as hiding from the truth; because the reality is too painful to bear.

I disagree. It’s not all bad news.

Often, the best way for us to restore a sense of self-confidence, is to be more mindful of the good aspects of our lives, that we do have control over.

It’s very hard to ignore the community spirit throughout this lockdown

Recently a YouGov poll reported that only 9% of Britons want life to return to “normal” once the lockdown is over. The majority who don’t want life to return to normal, say they notice positive changes the pandemic brings; cleaner air, more wildlife, and a stronger sense of community.

For many years studies have shown a positive connection between time spent in nature, and increased levels of mental wellbeing. A recent BBC post has further highlighted how doing so can improve our mood during the current pandemic.

So maybe there is a silver lining here.

You may have seen the before and after images of Venice’s canals, right? The effects of the lockdown on the city’s waterways are impressive to say the least.

It’s also hard to ignore the community spirit throughout this lockdown. It may have prevented us from having huge celebrations to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe, but that didn’t stop some communities from throwing social distancing tea parties.

It was a heart-warming moment when I saw that the 100-year-old war veteran, Captain Tom Moore, raise over £30 million for the NHS. Likewise, street artist, Banksy has dedicated his latest piece to thanking the NHS. And of course, we have our weekly applause showing the nation’s appreciation for our fantastic health workers.

Reports suggest that people are devoting more time catching up with friends and family, and spending less money

As a community we are definitely seeing a coming together during this crisis. So maybe this pandemic has given us a chance to turn the spotlight on some ugly issues. I think we, as a nation, are eternally grateful for the NHS and hopefully now acutely aware of the destitute state of its funding.

The YouGov poll suggests that many Britons are devoting more time catching up with friends and family, and spending less money overall, something which I can personally say I’ve experienced as well.

There’s also been an increased interest in home workouts and self-education. So, between nominating each other to neck down pints on Instagram, we’ve sometimes been using the lockdown period to build more positive habits.

So in the face of this catastrophe, isn’t it worth paying attention to the good stuff?

As author James Branch Cabell said, “The Optimist proclaims that we live in the best of all possible worlds; and the pessimist fears this is true.”

Mish is currently a student studying History at the University of Bristol. He keeps an online blog to share his opinions on whatever comes to mind.

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