Mario Quinsata, age 68: “I was never allowed to go inside the building to visit my mom and dad who reside on the second floor of an assisted living residence in a neighboring state. They are 92 and 95 years old, respectively. Weather permitting, they could step out onto their tiny balcony and we would shout sentences up and down to one another about how well things were going, even if they weren’t going so well. Soon their voices would give out and we would wave goodbye until the next week. Then I would leave a bag of goodies for them at the front desk and drive away fighting back the tears. Month after month I dreaded the thought of them getting sick and dying with no chance for a final hug and kiss. I hated how this virus was stealing whatever waning years of contact we had left.”
Onamay Nugent, age 33: “The children were troopers at first. They cooperated with the remote classroom schedule, wore their masks, washed their hands often and tried to keep the proper social distances as much as an 11 year old and 15 year old can. But as the restrictions dragged on, I could see they were turning more and more of their homework time into a permanent vacation. And even that was getting old pretty fast. Texting, FaceTime, tweets and blogging kept the kids occupied for a while but as the weeks turned into months they missed being with their friends and all the team sports and school activities that were either closed or off limits. When my husband got laid off from his job, I had all three of them underfoot. That’s when the light at the end of the tunnel started looking less like a beacon of hope and more like the headlight of train coming to wreck our home and our lives. Sometimes I would jump in the car and go for a ‘scream ride’ as I called it, just to left off steam. I was sure if this bug kept us isolated much longer that I would lose control and the virus would win. But I felt powerless to stop it.”
No doubt we can all agree that 2020 was a very difficult year. Challenging situations are a part of life. The arrival of a pandemic was an enormous challenge and still is. But now we are in a new year. So the question becomes, will it be a happier new year? The answer is yes, if we decide that it will be. How can we do this? We can do this by redirecting our thoughts, words and deeds away from negativity and toward positivity.
One Positive Thought. Begin the morning with a prayer that combines the virtues of faith, hope, and love. This prayer can be brief but must be sincere. For example, pray, “God, I believe in you, I place all my hope in you, I love you.” Let the graces associated with these positive thoughts of praise permeate your mind and your soul. Close your eyes, breathe deeply and think to yourself, “Faith, Hope, Love.” You can also expand these thoughts into a proactive prediction: “Something positive is going to happen today.” Then open your eyes, watch and wait as this superior positive thought, which combines belief, expectation and kindness, comes true for you, or someone you love, or both.
Two Positive Words. The two key words, of course, are “thank you.” These can be verbal utterances but they will work just as well in writing, chat, text or email, etc. Think of two people who are especially “positive” and enjoyable to be around. Pen a note of appreciation to each starting with their name and then adding the following expression of gratitude, “N., thank you for being so upbeat.” Repeat the same thankfulness for the second person you have in mind to fulfill the positive verbal requirements for the day.
Three Positive Deeds. This is the same behavior repeated three times for three different people you know. The first person is you! Begin the day by smiling at the person in the bathroom mirror. Sure this sounds goofy but it works. Next, keep that same smile handy and direct it toward the first acquaintance you meet. If this person is under your roof, no problem. If you are out and about, then this second smile will be hidden by your mask until you see someone you recognize. Wave to them and call their name while you’re still at least six feet away. Quickly move your mask aside, grin broadly for two seconds showing a mouthful of teeth, then replace the facial covering followed by five positive nods and rapidly blinking eyes. The other person may stop in their tracks and shake their head from side to side. However, they will get the message. And even though you won’t see it, they will be smiling behind their mask as well. Perform this same deed for one other person for a total three positive deeds for the day.
Holy Homework. Let’s repeat steps one, two, and three listed above as often as possible during 2021. If we do, we will discover that these practices are sure to turn our happy new year wishes into a happier new year reality for all.
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