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Keeping hope, increasing gratitude

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“Hallelujah, he has risen.”

It’s certainly strange to hear those joyful words proclaimed on a livestreamed Mass viewed from a smartphone in my living room. But it is Easter, and it is a time of celebration, even when the pandemic limits our ability to celebrate in typical ways. So, what are we doing to keep hope alive during these times? 

Focus on the positive

Our expectations impact our mood. If I expect things won’t go well, then I tend to see things not going well. This isn’t to say a bad attitude can prevent good things from happening, but it does mean we pay more attention to things we expect to see. So, if we’re pessimistically looking at the glass half empty, it’s unlikely we’re going to enjoy the taste of the drink. We live in a fallen world and may naturally gravitate to focusing on what’s not going well. If 100 things happen to us in a week, and 99 of them are good, our human nature may cause us to focus on the one negative thing. Instead of falling into this trap, let’s catch ourselves anytime we take an overly negative view and try to shift frame.

Actively look for what’s going well

Even in a time of social distancing and pandemic, uplifting things are happening all around us. While we may naturally see negative events more easily, make a commitment to actively look for the good, beautiful or encouraging in our lives. Counting small blessings may sound trivial, but those little things remind us of hope. Whether it’s enjoying the beauty of spring, hearing a song you love, or receiving a message from a friend you haven’t spoken with in several years, small blessings remind us there is more than the COVID-19 pandemic in our lives. Challenge yourself to identify one good thing in your life each day.

Encourage others

It’s easy to get discouraged as the pandemic drags on. We are inundated with images and concerns of rising unemployment, illness and death. But we can fight discouragement by encouraging others, whether face to face or virtually. We can be kind and gentle to one another: Take deliberate steps to brighten someone’s day by a caring act, or tell someone something we admire about them. We’ll get through this crisis, and we’ll do it together. Where can we find encouragement if not from each other?

Say thank you

When we begin to look outside ourselves, we can focus on others, and appreciate all they do for us every day. Hope and happiness are accompanied by a strong sense of gratitude for the gifts God gives us and an appreciation of the people in our lives. We convey that gratitude by thanking others when they help or are kind, or just for being who they are. Being thankful enables us to appreciate the people and blessings in our lives more deeply. We are an Easter people, and even in unprecedented times of hardship and challenge, we want to live out our faith in hope and joy.

Horne is director of clinical services for diocesan Catholic Charities.

 Find out more

To make a teletherapy appointment with a Catholic Charities counselor, call 703/425-0109 or 540/371-1124.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2020