Barton Goldsmith Tribune News Service
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Psychotherapist Dr. Barton Goldsmith shares his thoughts on how to best find strength and hope when faced with fear and confusion.
As we continue to navigate the current emotional landscape of living through a global pandemic, most people are feeling that their valleys are way outnumbering their peaks. It is still hard to relax, feel balanced and find some happiness, with all this pain and fear going on around us.
Learning how to enjoy the passing of time will help. It truly is one of the secrets of a good life.
Some people who’ve been only indirectly affected and mostly inconvenienced by the pandemic think all this time, money and energy spent on combating COVID-19 is a big waste. Although that may be their experience, there is another part to this reality. Over half a million people have died, and millions more sickened. You are a very lucky person if the death and devastation has eluded you and those you love. It is a dark time, but there are ways to find some emotional bright spots.
There are new opportunities, but you have to work at it. You can make this time better for yourself and find greater meaning and fulfillment if you can reframe your thinking. This happens when you decide within yourself to make some changes and try some new things. Personally, I applied for a job at the White House. I did it just because I could, and who knows? Crazier things have happened to me, and doing it felt good.
Since there is truly nowhere to run, we have to learn to escape into our own worlds and minds. This is easier for some than for others (and I’m not advocating staying high for the duration), but there are numerous ways to put your mind into a positive place, which makes it harder for you to feel bad. Sound too simplistic? Not to those who practice these everyday techniques, like just throwing your hat into the ring and applying for a dream job or developing a business plan.
In addition, the lack of social interaction has forced us to rely more on ourselves for company and those few we “pod” with. I don’t know about you, but it makes me lonely. I miss seeing my friends, and thinking about that brings me down. Still, I can continue to feel bad, or I can do something about it. In this case, I will text, call or send a carrier pigeon (if you’re a "Game of Thrones" fan, read: raven). That little bit of reaching out is really all we have, and you can make it a deep and fulfilling experience if you just put a little energy into it.
Television and streaming services have made the passage of time more enjoyable. But just sitting and watching is not something I can do for more than a couple hours at a time. For real distraction, I usually play my guitar or go for a walk or a boat ride. Sometimes I’m writing with music playing in the background. It’s good to choose things you like to do and then do them regularly, to add pleasure to your daily routine.
(Dr. Barton Goldsmith, a psychotherapist in Westlake Village, Calif., is the author of "The Happy Couple: How to Make Happiness a Habit One Little Loving Thing at a Time.")
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