Aging Well in the Gorge March 24th 2021

Living under a cloud of COVID uncertainty and doubt; worrying about our friends, family, businesses and communities, it’s easy to slide into life’s doldrums. Jackson Rainer addresses this state of mind in his post “How to be More Optimistic” found on the Next Avenue website.

When we experience stress such as the pandemic, the hardwiring of the brain directs our attention toward the perception of threat and danger. But with the encouraging news that millions of people are being vaccinated, we may need to make intentional cognitive shifts toward a positive future rather than focusing on the difficulties.

Optimism is defined as “the cognitive ability to understand the current situation as it is and work for changing things in favor of ourselves”. Not easy when we have experienced so much negativity over this last year.

Some of us may already have an optimistic disposition: seeing the glass half full. Some of us may be more pessimistic seeing the glass how empty? And there are always a few who ask, “Who drank my water?”

However, you are inclined to see a situation, the more you look to the future and focus on ways of increasing positive emotions, the healthier and happier you’ll be. But it us up to you.

According to Hamid Mirsalimi, a clinical psychologist practicing in Atlanta, there are three steps you can take to counter the pessimism of always expecting the worse and instead increase your optimism.

1. “Analyze your thoughts and give yourself credit.”  Instead of being your worst critic,  think of your best possible self. When you encounter a challenging event, consider how much influence you have, where you’re in control and how in the past you’ve used your strengths to get through difficult times.

2. “Minimize the negative when it is realistic to do so.”

As they say “dirty diapers” do happen. When you acknowledge there are some things you can’t influence and you did all you could, it allows you to accept and then adapt for a better future.

3. “Put away the to-do list. Focus on effort, rather than results.”

Positive thinkers focus more on the process than the results: drawing for your own joy and not for other’s approval – although that is nice. And don’t ignore your emotions and feelings which have a negative effect if unaddressed. Once we acknowledge how we are looking forward, rather than what has caused emotional distress, worry lessens.

By imagining a positive future where we know what we can change and what we cannot; and viewing ourselves capable of creating more positive outcomes, we can live a more fulfilling and meaningful life.

It’s exciting to hear about so many people being vaccinated. People are talking about visiting their loved ones and traveling again without the COVID worry. With momentum building and the supply of doses increasing, I’m looking forward to reaching that elusive goal of herd immunity and stopping the spread of COVID-19.

The name of the popular student study guides with the yellow and black covers was CliffsNotes. I received correct answers from Joanie Gilbert, Susan Ellis, Steven Wollfest, Tina Castanares, Barbara Cadwell, Lana Tepfer, Jean Harmon, Katherine Schlick Noe, Margo Dameier, Jess Birge, Dave Lutgens, Linda Frizzell, Rhonda Spies, Gene Uczen, Carol Earl, and Marilyn Wall this week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket. (For clarification not everyone actually used CliffsNotes – at least that’s what they said!) Last week I missed Jennifer Stager.

There were many ways to “bare” yourself during your youth: skinny dipping and mooning (which I am sure none of you ever did!). But this craze was one of the biggest and strangest trends of the 1970s and was the inspiration for the novelty/country song written and sung by Ray Stevens. For this week’s “Remember When” question, what was the name of this fad? Email your answer to mcseniorcenter@gmail.com, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or send it with a video of the 1974 Academy Awards.

Well, it has been another week, racing the leaves down the sidewalk on a windy day. Until we meet again, one thing I’ve found during the pandemic is I look much better wearing a mask!

“There's a lot of optimism in changing scenery, in seeing what's down the road.” Conor Oberst - musician

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