2021 will be what we make of it
Watch your thoughts, they become your words; watch your words, they become your actions; watch your actions, they become your habits; watch your habits, they become your character; watch your character, it becomes your destiny. ~ Lao Tzu
I think we can all agree that 2020 was a heck of a year. We saw a global pandemic take over the world, We had more police shootings and protests, massive political upheaval in a very divided country culminating in claims of a fraudulent election and even to an insurrection at the US Capitol Building in the first week of 2021. I think we all have great hope that 2021 would be different. Of course I think we were all a bit hesitant as well, one meme I saw really made me chuckle.
I think that we were all ready for 2021 to be a better year than 2020. But it’s important to hang on to some reality. You see, a lot of the bad things that happened in 2020 had parallel bad things in previous years. The real difference for 2020 was that the pressure of the pandemic overlaid everything that happened. This is important because what the pandemic has done, with all of it’s associated fears and stress, is to make everything harder. People are more on edge, they have fewer emotional reserves with which to deal with any additional stress. It also doesn’t surprise me that we are seeing more strength to conspiracy theories. People are stressed, scared and have less to do. So they are spending more time on social media, on YouTube and this makes it more likely they will be exposed to more radical ideas, and have the time to explore them.
Knowing and understanding this can help us make 2021 a better year. First off, we need to keep in mind that we know, living under a pandemic we are under stress, that may even feel normal at this point, but our stress levels are at a much higher level than normal. So it’s important to employ as many stress reduction techniques as possible. Whether for you that is a morning meditation, a workout, a walk, a run, playing video games, reading, whatever it is, it’s a year to do more of it. It’s also important to remind those around you to do the same. The less stress in your overall environment, the better you’re going to feel. And the better you feel, the better the world looks, the happier you’ll be.
Once you understand your stressed and deal with it, it’s possible to push forward and make sure that your mental outlook is as positive as possible. Part of what can happen, especially after such a long period of difficulty, is that we can develop a bit of a defeatist attitude and we start to expect things to be bad. So we have to adjust our attitude to make sure that we keep our outlook positive. How do we do this?
What we have to do is to adjust our expectations. One way to do this, and it may sound a little silly, is to tell ourselves in the mirror every morning, that it’s going to be a great day. What this does, if you do it every day, and try like heck to believe it, is that you start to adjust your internal dialogue. You start to expect things to be better, not worse and given that often the way we view a situation defines the way we feel about it, this can really help us be more positive and feel better about our lives.
A second technique you can imply is something I developed to use when I hiked the Appalachian Trail, I call it simply the three questions. The way that this works is very easy, at the end of each day I ask myself three questions. First, what was the most beautiful thing I experienced today? Second, what made me happy today? Third, what did I learn today?
If you do this daily something interesting starts to happen, you find that during the day you start think a lot more about the beauty around you and the things that make you happy. By changing yourself to focus on this things you become more aware of them and this also works to change your internal dialogue to a more positive experience. I can tell you, on the Appalachian Trail, on some really tough days, this technique really helped me out a lot and reminded me that no day is so bad that it is devoid of beauty, happiness or hope. No year is either, and 2021 will be a year full of beauty and happiness and you can choose to focus on that, instead of the bad things. Do that, and you’ll have happier days my friends. ~ Rev Kane