Many people love surprises. A surprise party. A surprise gift. A surprise visitor at the front door. These are often viewed as joyous and memorable events. However, not all surprises are positive. Many negative surprises occur in life, and they can greatly impact our perspective, mood and subsequent behavior.
Much of life is about dealing with unexpected and undesirable outcomes. A flight delay. The traffic jam. Losing one’s job.
Negative events and feelings are impossible to avoid and can be very difficult to get out of. They often activate our amygdala, which in turn can cause us to worry incessantly, get upset and make unwise choices.
The flight delay could have become a cancelled flight. The traffic accident could made you later had it blocked all lanes. The job loss would have been worse without unemployment insurance. Such perspectives can provide a sense of relief and gratitude that it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. Thank goodness! And while that change in perspective won’t change the present circumstance, it can greatly change our thoughts, actions and future outcomes.
Synthesizing the Year
2020 was a difficult year. It is easy to find things to complain about, get depressed about and/or get angry about. Those are all natural and expected responses from such a significant and negative shock as a global pandemic. Many of us look forward to 2021, hoping we never see another 2020 again.
We, individually, could not control the global impact of COVID, nor the innate feelings they produced. But we are in control of how we choose to remember the past, handle the present and frame the future.
2020 Could Have Been Worse!
When difficult times abound, it can be helpful to step back and realize how much things could be worse – it helps us see with a different perspective. With respect to the pandemic, there are divers ways it could have been worse – here are just a few:
- COVID could have been a completely foreign virus (not a coronavirus) that scientists knew nothing about
- The vaccines could have had strong side effects, low effectiveness and/or taken years to develop
- Government intervention could have been ineffective in stimulating the economy and our confidence
- Markets could have crashed, and the economy could have come to a screeching halt
A Better Perspective
Whenever we realize how much worse something could have been, we are in a position to feel grateful and fortunate that we didn’t have it that bad. Such a perspective may not change the reality in which we live, but it can greatly change our mood and outlook for the future.
Here is to a healthy, happy and strong 2021! Even with the current surge in COVID transmission, there is light at the end of the tunnel. We could have been in a worse position.