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Shifting Our Focus For A Happier 2020

This week's blog post is a guest post written by Grace Connors, co-founder and former president of Seneca Valley High School's SPARK club. She strives to find the brighter side of life and, as inspired by The Smile Project, to spread Happiness wherever she goes. You can read more of Grace's writing on her website or on The Odyssey Online.

Five months now that the U.S. has been practicing social distancing and perhaps it’s felt like a lifetime. I certainly have felt just about every emotion known to man. It’s hard to not feel like you’re drowning in a world like this. A world that is plagued by a virus, that often seems filled with hate, that is not always met with competence, and that is defined by the word “unknown”. In a world that looks like this, you may often find yourself wondering where the end of the tunnel is, when the light will shine. So how can you stay positive when your whole world has been flipped upside down?

I have been pondering this question for the past five months. I find myself feeling angry at the world and pitying myself when I think about how my college experience may be tarnished forever. I want to cry when I think about how there’s no more hugging. And I am disappointed in myself for everything I took for granted before this life. But what would make me angrier, break my heart more, and make me more disappointed in myself than ever before would be sitting here wasting away thinking about how sad I am that the world is not what it was.

It is times like this, the times that seem the lowest, where we must achieve our most optimistic selves. It is times like this where we must remind ourselves that we are the only ones standing in the way of our own happiness. It is something that we must convince ourselves to do, it is in the power of our minds.

The mind amazes me, it is one of our most powerful tools and yet I often feel like I have no control over my own. But when we shift our mindset the whole world begins to change. Maybe if we shift ours today, our upside-down worlds will turn right-side up.

For example, I have struggled to come to terms with the fact that I simply cannot relive the first half of my second semester, that that bliss I felt is no longer my life. But when I remind myself that that is how life works, that I am grateful to have experienced it, that I still have all those amazing friends in my life, and that I am healthy. Well, then I start to feel a whole lot better.

Having spoken with a lot of friends regarding COVID-19, it has been brought to my attention that while 2020 is a terrible year for the world, there are a lot of individuals reaping the benefits. People have strengthened relationships, finally started working out, written to friends, told people they love them, read all the books on their shelf, started blogs, made life-changing decisions, and more.

So maybe the world is upside-down. Maybe we live in a world that looks different than we want it to. And while we live in a world that needs to heal, we also live in a world that has a sun that feels like happiness, a world where people fall in love, a world where people hold doors for strangers, a world that is up to us to make full of love.

I think that if we all count our blessings, shift our mindsets, and love a little bit harder, we might find ourselves in a whole new world.

Photo by Grace Connors

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