These are times when the coming new year still seems filled with a lot of uncertainties, but what is also comforting is the thought that 2021 can’t be any worse than this year.
This year, which initially came with so much positive anticipation, since it indicated a perfect vision of 20/20, seemed to have blinded all of us. No one really saw it coming—not in our wildest nightmares!
It started with the eruption of Taal Volcano, which made everyone realize that its small size could be deceiving. Then, COVID-19 broke out, not the type of infectious breakouts we’re so used to, but on a global scale, making “pandemic” an understatement.
Life came to a standstill, like a clogged engine carburetor spluttering to a halt. We were on home quarantine for several months, and earning a living had to take a backseat. With so much time to ponder things, we realized the value of family, of friends and of life itself.
The future, despite our previous grand plans, was suddenly of no moment. The only thing that mattered was the now, and how we could survive another day, week, month, or year, until hopefully it’s all over, and we could wake up from the nightmare.
But it was also a defining moment for us, that despite such a challenging year, we discovered we were made of stronger stuff that God blessed us with. The adage, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going” suddenly became real.
When the new year comes, we can all wave banners that we survived 2020, and we should be able to survive any other challenging year in our lifetime. This year was the Mt. Everest in our lives, and we’re nearing the peak. Actually, I think we’ve reached the peak, and we’re now on our way back down to base camp. We’ve been through the worst; it’s just a matter of completing the rest of the difficult journey with our current standard of care.
Yes, we can look at the new year as an epiphany for most of us. Epiphanies are not everyday happenings; they lead us to significant realizations about important things in our lives.
An epiphany makes us pause for a while and revisit what we’ve made of our lives, rethink our priorities and decide what we want to do for the rest of our lives. It gives us a feeling that no matter how we fared in the previous year—no thanks to COVID-19, or how we messed up our lives in the past—we’ve been given a clean slate and a fresh start once more.
Whether we’re in our teens or in an age of aching bones or lapsing memories, we know the coming year can be made more meaningful if we could just reset our minds with a more positive orientation. It’s understandable how COVID-19 has adversely affected our mental health, and diminished our capacity to hope for good things to come, but the choice of what will happen is absolutely ours. We just have to make that decision and reclaim our control over our destiny.
What we’ve become up to this point was largely influenced by the quality of the thoughts we’ve had all these years. The past somehow matters, but it hardly does when we realize that the rest of our lives will now depend on the kind of thoughts that we nurture from hereon.
Let’s not allow our dread of COVID-19 to control our mindset, and incapacitate us into believing that life will remain at a standstill, and there’s nothing we can do about it.
As we start the new year, the most important resolution that we can make for ourselves, for our families and for our nation is to have a positive mindset and expectations, no matter what COVID-19 may still have in store.
Let’s also make a decision to be kinder to ourselves and to the people around us. Many times, we’re our own worst critic, and an even worse critic of others, of our leaders, of our nation. We fail to see the good things in our lives, in other people and in our country, and every small shortcoming is highlighted and even exaggerated. We’re good at making mountains out of mole hills.
In past columns, we wrote about the tremendous impact of our mental disposition on our health, career, relationships and practically every aspect of our lives. We compared this to the internal or built-in GPS which directs our entire life to whatever we think of.
We may not realize it, but many of the things that happen in our lives are due to our set expectations. It is what some would call a self-fulfilling prophecy. If we expect a bad year right at the start, like this week, chances are, we’re going to have a bad year. If we focus our thoughts on COVID-19 and what would happen to us if we get the virus, then we’ll likely attract the virus and possibly suffer from a life-threatening infection.
Instead of focusing on problems like COVID-19, we can focus on the solutions and expect that things will turn out just as we would want them to. Let’s focus on a healthy immune system, and how our immune system’s killer T-cells are munching on all the viruses and bacteria that enter the body, like Pacman in the video game. Visualize that for a few minutes each day, thank God for it, and a reality it shall become.
When despair and hopelessness grip us, repeatedly reciting Psalm 23 gives us the strengthening balm to allay all our fears: “The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want… Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me… Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.”
Truly blessed are those who surrender everything to God during times like this.
Here’s wishing everyone a blessed and bountiful 2021.