Last week, I got a new bike. My old bike was a twenty-year-old boy’s bike and swinging my leg over the bar had become increasingly more challenging. Last fall, I began researching bikes made specifically with older people in mind.
I found lightweight bikes and bikes with the pedals moved a little forward to accommodate aging hips. And then I found easy boarding bikes, with virtually no bar to climb over—just a platform to step across.
When I ordered my new bike two weeks ago, I told the bike shop owner that I plan to ride this bike for the next twenty years.
As soon as the words were out of my mouth, I realized how optimistic they were. We are in the midst of a pandemic that is killing people my age. It has even been nicknamed the boomer remover because of how vulnerable my peers and I are to this virus.
And I am buying a bike I plan to ride for the next twenty years!
How do I reconcile these two realities—my optimism and my vulnerability?
I am an optimist by nature. In the face of reality, no matter how dark or hopeless the current situation might seem, I still see potential to learn and grow. I believe that every curse has a blessing, and the invitation is to find the blessing and to learn something from current circumstances.
In the midst of this pandemic, I feel the anxiety of the not knowing—how long the pandemic will last, how many people will get sick, how many will die, how close to home the virus will come—all the uncertainties of the situation.
There are many mysteries, I often say, things over which I have no power or control. I believe I am invited to accept that I am powerless over them. At the same time, I am invited to continue to live in trust and hope.
And that means not just being alive, but living fully, joyfully and gratefully.
Here are some practices that help me to remain optimistic and hopeful:
- Focusing on what I have instead of what is lacking. I am richly blessed by family, friends, a home, food, etc., and reminding myself of all that I have helps me see abundance instead of scarcity.
- [MB1] grateful for what I have. Keeping a gratitude journal and every day, naming at least three things for which I am grateful (by writing them, saying them out loud or at least calling them to mind) reinforces how much good is in my life.
- Telling the people in my life that I am grateful for them—in person, via phone, email or snail mail—at least one person a day.
- Saying the Serenity Prayer every day to remind myself what I can control (me) and what I cannot control (most everything else). Keeping the focus on me helps me have realistic expectations and leads to greater serenity.
What helps you stay hopeful?