Finding Hope In 2022 & Beyond
“The best way out is always through.” – Robert Frost
We were convinced that when the calendar page was turned at the beginning of 2021, all of the despair of 2020 would disappear. Yet, this year has been another rough year. And we aren’t done with this long and difficult pandemic. We’re now dealing with the Omicron variant of COVID, in addition to the Delta variant and, of course, original COVID. We’re faced with more anger and violence in our streets, and we’re losing more friends and family members over the discord about the virus. So, how do we get to the other side of all of this, so we can truly live our most passionate and joyful lives?
Stay aware of the science as it changes
If we remain vigilant and aware of the latest information, we can get through this. As we know, with science, the information changes as we learn more. And, in the case of a pandemic, the more we know, the safer we can stay. However, what threatens our safety is that many are done with it and act like it’s all over. We’re all worn out and tired of the pandemic. Still, it’s not over and, if we all were to come together (not physically, of course) to do what we need to do, we could potentially move this behind us to the point where Covid is endemic––meaning that it would become like the flu, just requiring a yearly vaccine to keep it mostly at bay. But the science tells us we’re not there yet.
Buy some home test kits to keep on-hand
If you think you might have been exposed, it’s easy to test at home these days, with 95% accuracy. Before getting together with friends, have everyone take a test before you get together or take the tests together before taking off your masks. Sounds crazy to some, but this can prevent us from spreading the virus among vaccinated people who might spread it to someone more vulnerable. And don’t we want to keep each other safe? It doesn’t have to be a big deal to do the test.
When I was up in NY, I had dinner with a friend in her house. We were both taking care of our elderly parents, daily, at that time and wanted to be careful not to bring them a “gift” of a virus they might be vulnerable to, even with their vaccinations. We sat at opposite ends of a long table with windows open. And we took home tests together before we took off our masks to eat. It sounds strange, but it was actually a fun way to test, and we both felt more at ease after that. A new dinner party activity added to the new normal.
I don’t say “new normal” lightly because I truly believe that things will never go back to the way they were before Covid, throughout many spheres of our lives. And that’s how life is. Things change. Some change for the better. We now know that many jobs can be performed remotely, and some people discovered that this fits much better for their lives. And some changes are uncomfortable, but something we have to adjust to, just like we’ve adjusted to changes at airports since 9/11.
Hope creates resilience
We sure went through some rough times together. The pandemic and the division between people over wearing masks and getting vaccines, sometimes leading to violence and often leading to loss of relationships, added an extra strain on all of us. And many of us have also had our own personal trials and tribulations during this time. The other stresses of life continued to occur, undeterred by a global pandemic. If there was one lesson for me that overshadowed the many others of this year, it is that of the power of hope. Hope gives us the resilience to get through the most difficult of times.
And, as Dr. Chan Hellman, science of hope researcher and author of Hope Rising, How the Science of Hope Can Change Your Life, discussed, when on my radio show on November 21, hope is an active verb, not only a noun. Hope takes action and is quite a bit different than a wish. Dr. Hellman defined Hope for us as “the belief that the future will be better than today and that I have the power to make that so, to see that future, potentially, come true” and that it is “grounded in three simple ideas: goals, pathways, and willpower.”
My personal journey in 2021 involved living through an example of the incredible power of hope, when my mom was in the hospital for an entire four weeks, in September and the early part of October. Hope motivated my family and I to push hard and advocate for her to receive the life-saving treatment she received, against some intense resistance from the medical community. And it was my mom’s own hope that kept her fighting to recover and to live. I’m grateful and thrilled that she is now enjoying life to its fullest in spite of the constant messages from the attending physician in the hospital that our hope was “false.” You can read more about my personal journey in my blog, Holding onto Hope — in Spite of The Doctor Who Gave Up: The Sad Truth About Health Care and the Elderly.
Take action towards desired outcomes
And this same power of hope applies to our current Covid mess. There is a viable pathway toward health and safety for ourselves and our communities. We can keep ourselves, our loved ones, our communities, and the most vulnerable among us safe, without adding to the anger and violence. If we can focus on our goals of a healthier and kinder society and take the actions necessary, we have a great chance of achieving these goals. The actions, as I see it, include getting vaccinated and getting boosters, not just for the protection of ourselves, but for the protection of more vulnerable people whom we might come into contact with. We can continue to wear masks, especially now that there’s a new, more easily transmissible variant that we can give to someone even if we’re vaccinated. Additionally, we can enlist our patience to wait before going back into crowded public events and large parties of people. The added bonus is that, if we do this with the intent of being kind to others and of keeping our neighbors safe, it adds a whole new level of kindness and joy into the world and gives our actions more meaning and purpose for our own lives, which are essential elements for living a passionate life.
Actions of kindness, generosity, and compassion are powerful
In general, with all of the anger around us in the world, in addition to helping to defeat the pandemic, we can “be the change we want to see in the world,” as Ghandi suggested, by making it a practice to deploy simple actions of kindness and compassion with one another daily. Just simply being open-minded about the struggles of people who are different from us and taking the time to really listen to their stories, can be transformative for us, for them, and for the world-at-large. We can be generous in giving, help our neighbors without expectation of anything in return, and be kinder in spirit. Kindness and generosity are powerful forces to bring light where there is darkness.
You might feel that you’re powerless as one single person to make a difference in the world. But, as is often said, it takes just one candle to illuminate the darkness. We can see examples of that when we learn of people who were about to give up on living when a simple kindness of a stranger who didn’t know their despair turned it around for them and gave them the will to keep going. If you want to read stories about that, check out the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation. In 2018, well before we were overcome by a global pandemic and all of the anger that has come out of this, my blog, In the Wake of Anger, Kindness is our Superpower, was published. Kindness is our superpower, I wrote, perhaps our only power in the ever-growing environment of anger and violence.
Suicide hotline: 1-800-273-8255
The holidays are a particularly difficult time for many people. So, please keep an eye and ear open for friends or neighbors who might be struggling right now. Do something kind for them. Check on them. And if you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, please know there is help 24/7. One great place to reach out for help is the National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255 that’s 1- 800-273-TALK. You can call for yourself, and you can also call for someone else whom you see is in trouble. There is someone at the other end of that phone line to help, all day and night, every day, even on weekends and holidays. Of course, other options include calling a trusted friend, relative, or your mental health professional. Calling 911 or going to your nearest Emergency Room, if the danger of self-harm or harm to others is possibly imminent, is an important option to remember.
Hope, resilience, joy, and passion in 2022
Hope is the key to creating the resilience we need to get us through the hardest of times, as well as for living more passionate lives. There is always going to be stress in our lives and around us. With hope, we are resilient to that stress so that we can create more joy and passion in spite of the stress. Hope is also the key to making it possible for us to take those “leaps of faith” that are often necessary to live our lives with joy, passion, and vitality, no matter our age.
As I wrote about at the start of 2021, after going through the darkness of 2020, in my blog, Riding the Storm and Walking Each Other Home: A Belated New Year’s Blog for a Chaotic Time, one powerful exercise to help us to stay on the track of kindness, hope, and resilience is to ask ourselves two questions every day:
- “What can I do today to bring light into the world?”
- “What can I do today to bring light into my life?”
Sometimes, the answer is the same for both questions because compassionate action for others has the side-effect of boosting our own mood and of bringing about a feeling of purposeful living and passion. “We are all just walking each other home,” wrote Ram Dass.
And, so, with these thoughts, I want to wish you all a very peaceful, healthy, and joyful end of 2021, and a hopeful and passionate New Year, filled with much joy and vitality. See you in 2022!
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