Fires, racism, and violence across the nation are pulling at our attention. Coming directly off a pandemic, people are not in a very strong place emotionally and feel as though they cannot handle all that is being thrown at them. It is easy to get caught up in the whirlwinds of negativity. It is easy to focus on what is wrong in the world and what is bad. It is easy to become angry or frustrated. How then does one remain optimistic during such challenging times?
Spencer W. Kimball once said:
“You are building your life; . . . it can be full of joy and happiness, or it can be full of misery. It all depends upon you and your attitudes, for your altitude, or the height you climb, is dependent upon your attitude or your response to situations” (Spencer W. Kimball, “The Davids and the Goliaths,” October 1974).
Sometimes with so much happening to us and so much negativity all around us, it is good to remember that we can choose our responses and our attitudes. There is much that we can control and do even when so much feels out of our hands.
In my own life there are a few things that really seem to help. First, choosing to focus on the good instead of the negativity in the world. Yes, there has been rioting and looting, but there have also been volunteers cleaning up the messes that they didn’t create. Yes, there are brutal actions being made by some law enforcement officers and citizens, but there are also policemen standing silently as they are taunted and having rocks thrown at their heads, and people standing up for truth and good. Many of us are now having open conversations with those of differing opinions on important topics.
One story that strengthened my faith in humanity came from a friend who ran out of flour during the pandemic. In need, she turned to her ward, posting on Facebook simply asking if anyone had some they could share. It took no time at all and quite suddenly she found herself in possession of ten pounds of flour. Going from lack to abundance so quickly was humbling. Soon she was posting asking people to stop sharing their flour.
Surely my friend was very thankful to a God who answered her prayers, and to the hands that helped it to happen. James E. Faust once said that a grateful heart is the beginning of greatness. The second way we can be more optimistic is by choosing to count the daily blessings in our lives. Recently I asked some friends what blessings they had received through the past few months. They mentioned the following: more time to spend with their family members, increased compassion for others around them, greater satisfaction in outdoor activity, getting to know neighbors, learning about family history, meeting extended family members, developing talents, etc. Personally, I have had many reasons to celebrate the past six months. I find myself in a solid relationship with a good man. I have lost 45 pounds since March. I am becoming healthier mentally, physically, and spiritually.
There is certainly a bunch of bad and hard happening all around us. Yet there is also a bunch of good. My invitation to all of us is to stop and notice the positive things in our lives by focusing on them and remaining thankful for what we do have. The world won’t change for good overnight, but our view of the world can be very different from day to day as we change our focus. Instead of focusing on the negativity, we can choose to see the good in humanity. We can choose to recognize quiet strength in others. We can choose to be thankful receivers as we notice blessings in our lives and the lives of others. We can choose to be optimistic even in 2020.
Ashley Dewey is extremely talented at being single. Hobbies include awkward conversations with members of the opposite sex, repelling third dates, talking to boys about their girl problems and to girls about their boy problems. In her spare time she also has a very fulfilling school life, work life, and social life. Besides being a professional single, Ashley is also a BYU graduate with a degree in linguistics (Aka word nerd). She enjoys studying other languages, particularly American Sign Language, and finds most all of them fascinating. She is currently pursuing a masters degree in Teaching English as a Second Language. Ashley works most of the time and has often been accused of being a workaholic. Currently she works full time as a merchandiser and supervisor in a retail store, and part time doing social media work. On her day off she works (really it doesn't feel like work) in the Provo LDS temple. The only kind of work she finds difficulty focusing on is house work. Her favorite activities in her free time are reading, writing, creating social experiments, and spending time with great friends and family. Specific activities with those family and friends include: going to concerts, plays, dance recitals, BYU basketball and football games, and watching sports on television.