Face mask are now a must for shopping.

How to stay optimistic

The next few weeks will be rough. Our country will get a heartbreaking lesson in exponential growth. And as quarantines linger, more stores and restaurants close (and may never reopen), people continue to lose their jobs, and fear and uncertainty grow, it will be harder to see a sliver of a silver lining. How do we keep going?

We have to find little victories wherever we can.

I got good news from a recent blood test. My triglycerides are normal for the first time in years. My doctor said that I can stop taking a medicine I had been using. The months I put into working on my health are paying off. The lipids that led to my mother’s stroke and death are finally under control.

There are little victories in the greater world as well. The outpouring of appreciation to frontline healthcare workers. The respect people give to social distancing at stores. The willingness of people to follow CDC guidelines and start wearing masks and other facial coverings—with the understanding that these are to protect others. Talk shows turning into broadcasted video chats to keep people entertained. And countless acts of kindness, heroism, generosity, and comfort.

Little victories keep us going when everything else seems bleak. If we can make headway on a project we’re working on, find new ways to promote a book, do some yard work, go out for a walk, or treat ourselves to a meal delivered from our favorite restaurant, it can give us enough of a sense of empowerment to keep going. When everything seems beyond our control, accomplishing anything—no matter how small—can keep us from despair.

Still, it’s hard to declare “we will get through it” when we don’t know when it will end, and what it will look like on the other side. That’s why we must carve out little victories where and when we can. They can give us hope and perhaps improve what our world will be like when we finally climb out of this crisis.